Norwegian skier Ole Einar Bjoerndalen: ‘Life’s too short to give up fighting’

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen.
Ole Einar Bjoerndalen is the oldest Olympic gold medalist at age 40.
Credit: Getty Images

The new golden age for sporting prowess may be your 40s: Norway’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen has become the oldest male gold medalist in Winter Games history.

Bjoerndalen, 40, won Saturday’s biathlon 10km sprint to equal the record for most medals won at the Winter Olympics (12), a record held by compatriot and cross-country skiing legend Bjoern Daehlie. Metro spoke with Sochi’s new hero after his historic, age-defying win.

Your first international appearance was in 1993 at a Norwegian World Cup competition. How did you manage to be one of the best in this sport for so long?

My philosophy is life’s too short to give up fighting. One must grit one’s teeth and try to do one’s best. I had some horrible years, but never without motivation.

It’s been 16 years since you won your first Olympics gold medal. What’s the difference between Nagano and Sochi?

I made no mistake: In 1998, that was a perfect competition for me. I’m not complaining about Sochi, either. I did well in skiing and shooting, too.

Even when you missed one of the targets?

I thought that was a point to say goodbye to my hope of winning. I was hoping to finish in one of the first three places, if I could keep my speed. This I managed to achieve, although my legs were not absolutely fine by the end of the competition.

Your compatriot, the eight-time Olympic gold winner Bjoern Daehlie, says now you are the greatest Norwegian sportsman of all time.

I am proud if he says so, but to me, he still is the greatest. It’s hard to compare the achievements of different eras as circumstances are different. Just one thing: Nowadays there are much more competitions than there used to be in the 1990s.

The 2016 Biathlon World Championships will be held in Oslo. Do you see yourself competing then?

I could list a thousand reasons why it’s time for me to retire. My friend [Norwegian cross-country skier and Olympic champion] Petter Northug said in two years’ time he wants to work in a car repair workshop repairing old cars that end up in Oslo. Maybe there will be two of us there.


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