By Philip O’Connor and Mitch Phillips
ZHANGJIAKOU, China (Reuters) -Quentin Fillon Maillet of France produced a superb display of shooting, hitting all 20 shots in tough conditions, to take the gold in the 12.5 km pursuit race on Sunday to take his Beijing biathlon medal tally to four.
Norway’s Tarjei Boe had a single miss as he took silver and Eduard Latypov, representing the Russian Olympic Committee, took bronze as Tarjei’s highly-favoured brother Johannes experienced a nightmare on the range, missing the target seven times and failing to make the podium.
Italy’s Lukas Hofer also shot perfectly but could not match the power of the other front runners on a heavy, slow skiing course that placed huge demands on the competitors, eventually finishing fourth.
Conditions could not have been worse, with swirling winds sending thick snow driving almost horizontally across the track and buffeting the shooting range, but Johannes Boe seemed unbothered, starting first and shooting clean on his first visit before speeding off again.
Maillet’s shooting didn’t get off to a great start as he struggled with his rifle, slamming it in fury with the heel of his hand before shooting clean and rejoining the fray 21.7 seconds after Johannes Boe.
The younger Boe blew it at the third shoot, missing with his first three bullets to incur three penalty laps as Maillet shot clean and rushed out in the lead, 10 seconds ahead of Russian Latypov.
Another perfect five-shot salvo at his final shoot secured the Frenchman’s second gold of the Games, following his victory in the individual race, to go alongside two silvers.
“I never expected to have four medals in four races. My goal, was to have one in relay and one in individual, but right now I have four and that’s incredible,” he said.
“I’m so proud of myself because today, the conditions were so hard – windy, snowing. It was a very, very hard fight during all the race.”
After winning his first individual medal on Friday with bronze in the sprint, Boe Tarjei added a welcome silver in the pursuit, finishing 28.6 seconds behind Maillet but easily holding off Latypov to take second place.
With his medal prospects blown away, his younger brother coasted home to fifth place, 2:13.7 behind the winner. “It felt like a big fight and tricky conditions on the range as well,” Johannes Boe said. “You had wind, tired legs, tired minds and hearts beating – it was not easy.
“I caught up 10 seconds during that shooting on the others. I lost two bullets out and saw the podium fly away. I started to think about the relay right after that.”
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Ken Ferris and Ed Osmond and Christian Radnedge)