ZHANGJIAKOU, China (Reuters) – Elvira Oeberg had big sister Hanna to thank for the expectations on the Swedish team coming into the Olympics, but she shrugged off the pressure and anchored the women’s relay team to biathlon gold as if she had been doing it all her life.
Hanna won an individual gold and a silver in the relay in Pyeongchang in 2018 as part of a youthful Swedish team that won the hearts of fans back home, but four years later those same fans weren’t hoping for Olympic medals — they were expecting them.
With the rest of the women and men in team struggling, Elvira had delivered two silver medals so far, but it was her epic performance over the final relay leg that has written her name in the history books at the tender age of 22.
“I really felt before today that I didn’t want to be the only one coming home with a medal,” she said.
“I really wanted to share it with someone else, and now I got to ski over the finish line and deliver a gold for us and this is really a team effort. It’s so incredible.”
Following Sweden’s silver in the same event in Pyeongchang, sister Hanna went one better in Beijing.
“We really deserve this gold medal. We’ve been really good in the relays this season and last season, and we have also missed out on the medals in the last world championships so we were really worth it,” Hanna said proudly.
“We have been working really hard to come to this place and be the good team that we are here today. I’m really proud of these girls, as well as the ones who did not start today.”
Sweden brought six women to Beijing, with the Oebergs joined in the team by Linn Persson and Mona Brorsson, with Anna Magnusson and Stina Nilsson left out of Wednesday’s line-up.
Competing at her first Olympics, Elvira has had a hand in all of Sweden’s three medals so far at the Beijing Games and is already, along with Hanna, Sweden’s most successful Olympic biathlete.
She will have her final chance to add to that tally when Saturday’s mass start brings the biathlon programme at the 2022 Games to a close.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)