Putin congratulates Bolshunov on gold medal
Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Alexander Bolshunov after he won the 30km skiathlon and the Russian Olympic Committee's (ROC) first gold medal at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
"From the bottom of my heart I congratulate you on your triumph at the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing," Putin wrote in a message which appeared on the Kremlin website.
"You’ve brilliantly opened the 'golden score' of our team, showed excellent fighting qualities on one of the most complex distances, confident winning attitude."
"I am convinced that your performance will become an inspiring example for all of our Olympians. I wish you new successes, health and all the best. Well done!" Putin finished.
Bolshunov rallied back from falling at the beginning of the race to achieve his feat with a fantastic time of 1:16:09.8 in freezing cross-country skiing conditions, which was a minute and 11 seconds faster than compatriot Denis Spitsov who took home silver.
Taking an ROC flag from the crowd before he crossed the finish line and bowed, Bolshunov improved on a second-place showing at Pyeongchang 2018 where he claimed three silver medals and one bronze.
"When I went one minute clear, I realized that was it, that's enough – it's time to celebrate," Bolshunov remarked after via a translator.
"The finish with the flag was something unreal. I want to dedicate this victory to all the fans – those who supported me and believed. To my family, who supported me the most.
"I also want to congratulate my father, who had his birthday yesterday. There was no gift yesterday, but I understood that the next day was a race, and the main gift that I can give him is what I did today," Bolshunov finished.
The ROC's medal tally improved to four after Bolshunov's display, as two silvers and a bronze were achieved elsewhere in the competition.
On Monday, the amount of golds captured is tipped to double in the figure skating Team Event where the ROC enjoys the lead over the US on 45 points to 42.