By Mitch Phillips and Philip O’Connor
ZHANGJIAKOU, China (Reuters) -Norway’s Marte Olsbu Roeiseland hit a perfect 10 out of 10 shots en route to a dominant victory in the women’s 7.5km biathlon sprint race at the Beijing Olympics on Friday, grabbing her second gold of the Games in the process.
Swedish 22-year-old prodigy Elvira Oeberg skied a brilliant final lap to secure silver, 30.9 seconds behind Roeiseland, with Italy’s Dorothea Wierer picking up bronze – her first individual Olympic medal following mixed relay bronzes in 2014 and 2018.
Starting fifth in the field, Roeiseland, who finished second four years ago and who also snagged a bronze in the 15km individual race in Beijing, had an excellent first lap on the skis and then hit a perfect five shots from the prone position to take a 10.4 seconds lead at the first shoot.
Once Roeiseland got her nose in front, there was no looking back and she piled the pressure on the rest of the field by again shooting perfectly, this time from standing, to cement her lead heading into the third and final 2.5km lap of the course.
She never let up, crossing the line a whopping one minute 16.1 seconds ahead of early leader, compatriot Tirill Eckhoff.
Oeberg, sister of 2018 15km champion Hanna, had other ideas, blazing through the first lap before rattling off a perfect five hit and briefly taking a lead of 0.4 seconds.
However, that quickly evaporated and, though she again shot perfectly from standing, she was left to vainly chase Roeiseland’s superb time of 20:44.3, coming in just over half a minute behind.
Italy’s Wierer was also perfect with her shooting but faded as evening crept in and Norway were soon celebrating again.
“I wanted so badly to have an incredible run,” Roeiseland said. “It was so wonderful to get that last shot, it was the best feeling ever. My shooting was clean and my ski time I think was really good.”
Oeberg said she may have paid for going off at too fast a pace but was delighted to shoot clean.
“I’ve had a great season and it’s a new situation for me (to be a favourite),” she said. I’m so happy to take a medal.”
Her sister Hanna, who shot poorly to finish 19th, told Reuters: “I’m just so happy for her. It’s huge for her to win this medal.”
She then embraced her sister wrapped in a Swedish flag.
Wierer said she had to dig deep in the gruelling final lap.
“We had really good skis today but, when you are dead, you are dead,” she added. “I knew I was losing time but I couldn’t feel my legs anymore and it was so hard, but I really did give it all and I’m really happy.”
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Ken Ferris)