Bjorn Ferry: Sweden's gold man in biathlon pursuit
Associated Press
2010-02-17 06:11 PM
A day of biathlon blunders couldn't dampen Bjorn Ferry's joy as he delivered the first Winter Olympics gold medal for the Swedish men in 50 years.

"I'm 31, and I've waited for this my whole life," Ferry said Tuesday after winning the 12.5-kilometer biathlon pursuit in 33 minutes, 38.4 seconds, 16.5 seconds faster that second-placed Christoph Sumann of Austria.

France's Vincent Jay, who started first after winning the 10K sprint in his Olympic debut Sunday, took the bronze, 28.2 seconds back.

Ferry became the first Swedish man to win a Winter Olympic gold since Klas Lestander won the 20K race at Squaw Valley in 1960.

But Ferry's victory was overshadowed by two racers setting off early because of mistakes by officials and volunteers at the start.

The International Biathlon Union called the mistakes an embarrassment.

"Why do we have this incompetence?" said Norbert Baier, the International Biathlon Union's technical delegate.

Baier said the two athletes who left early, American Jeremy Teela and Canadian Jean Philippe Leguellec, started from the wrong row. They both finished out of the medals.

Race officials missed the mistake and volunteers did not check to see they had the right bib numbers for that row.

The pursuit features staggered starts based on finish times from the previous event, and mistakes at the start gate also marred the women's 10K, where three women set off too late.

Because the remaining biathlon events do not include closely staggered start times like Tuesday's, there should be no repeat of the mistakes.

"The problems are over," Baier said. "We had enough problems today."

Norway great Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who started in 17th place, was in position to challenge for the podium until his only two misses of the day on his final shoot.

"I was shooting really fast and clean," said Bjoerndalen, who slipped to seventh. "But I was really tired on the last shooting, so I missed two."

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