ZHANGJIAKOU, China (Reuters) – Quentin Fillon Maillet’s hopes of a new Olympic medal almost came unstuck at the first shoot on Sunday when he found the path of his bullets blocked by ice in his magazine at a freezing National Biathlon Centre in Zhangjiakou.
Luckily, the Frenchman was able to dislodge the ice in time before going on to hit all 20 of his shots and bagging the 12.5 km pursuit gold in the process, his fourth medal of the Games.
“There was a little bit of ice on my magazine and it would not go down (into the rifle). I had big gloves on today because of the cold and it was difficult to get it down normally, it just went down a little bit late today,” Fillon Maillet told reporters.
With his fingers hindered by his larger, warmer gloves, he resorted to slamming the weapon with the heel of his hand before firing off a salvo of five perfect shots in terrible weather conditions.
Fillon Maillet was able to make the most of several misses by rival Johannes Thingnes Boe to take over the lead after the halfway point of the race despite driving snow and whirling winds, and after that he never looked back.
“I worked a lot this summer to prepare for these conditions, with the cold, with the rain, and today that is the gift of my profession,” he said.
“It’s incredible to do it again, to be in the medals — four races, four medals.”
Fillon Maillet won gold in the individual race, plus silvers in the sprint and mixed relay before adding Sunday’s win to the pile.
“I know Johannes (Boe) was stronger than me on the skis, maybe stronger today, and my strategy was to stay focused on me, make the best performance I can make, shoot clean… that was enough for the win,” he said.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; editing by Clare Fallon)