The Russian Olympic Committee threw away a huge lead in the final leg of the men’s biathlon relay to hand gold to Norway at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Eduard Latypov was wasteful in the final standing shoot, blowing a lead of nearly a minute over Norway while Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen was faultless with the rifle to surge the Norwegians into the lead. France had been 44.8 seconds behind Latypov but also came out ahead after the final shoot to claim silver as the Russians settled for bronze. Johannes Thingnes Boe skied the third leg for Norway and earned his third gold medal at Beijing 2022, while France's Quentin Fillon Maillet now has five medals from five events - two golds and three silvers.
Sweden went into the event as defending champions, featuring half of their 2018 relay gold medallists - Peppe Femling and Jesper Nelin - in their line up, but ended up fifth.
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It was the Russian Olympic Committee that began strongest, with Said Karimulla Khalili coming into the first exchange in 19:40.9, just 0.9 seconds ahead of Belarus, with France also in contention. Errors from Sturla Holm Laegreird at the standing shoot meant Norway were trailing by 40.3 seconds after the first leg.
The second leg was when the ROC started to motor, with rivals behind picking up too many penalties on the standing shoot. Meanwhile, Alexander Loginov went through his run on the course quicker than Khalili. Belarus dropped down to third, with Emilien Jacquelin bringing France into silver medal position.
The lead at the handover was 36.2 seconds and the advantage was only going to grow over the third leg, as ROC took total control.
By the end of the third leg, the Russians were still in the lead, but a few errors from Maxim Tsvetkov were not enough to cause serious damage - and they were still 41.3 seconds ahead at the next exchange.
But everything changed in the final leg during the final standing shoot, which had been causing athletes problems throughout the event, as Latypov had a nightmare shoot. Going into it, ROC had a 55.4 second advantage, but too many misses meant he came out 40.6 seconds behind, as Norway took control with a flawless final shoot from Christiansen.
To make things even more devastating for ROC, they had dropped down to third, with France moving into silver medal position through the in-form Quentin Fillon Maillet.
But it was Christiansen superb marksmanship and Lapytov’s wastefulness that proved to be the difference, as Norway won a fifth biathlon gold of the Games.
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