Svendsen edges Fourcade to win mass start

Tue Feb 18, 2014 11:11am EST
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By Julien Pretot

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen claimed his third Olympic title and denied Frenchman Martin Fourcade a golden Sochi hat-trick in a photo finish to the delayed 15km biathlon mass start on Tuesday.

In a memorable race twice postponed since Sunday because of fog, Svendsen and Frenchman Fourcade reached the final straight together but the Norwegian seemed to have sealed victory when he pulled away in the sprint for the line.

But Fourcade, who had earlier claimed the 20km individual and 12.5km pursuit titles, fought back to lunge towards the finish - the first binding to cross the line determining the winner - just as Svendsen raised his arms in celebration.

The official television feed initially showed Fourcade as the winner but after a photo finish was called Svendsen was awarded the victory.

Svendsen, the 2010 Games' 20km individual and relay gold medalist, had a tough start to the Sochi Olympics but made up for it on Tuesday.

"At the beginning of the Olympics it was very tough because I had problems with my skis, but we are back where are supposed to be," Svendsen said.

"It might have looked like I could lose gold, but I had good control over him. I knew I would get gold. It looked closer than it was. I looked at the finish photo and was surprised how close it was.

"Martin is first of all a very good and honest guy. When he loses he is a much better guy than me when I lose. He is one of the most respected athletes in the field."   Continued...

Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen celebrates as France's Martin Fourcade (R) lunges towards the finish line during the men's biathlon 15 km mass start event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics February 18, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos Barria