Quiet man Bjoerndalen holds back sands of time

Wed Feb 19, 2014 11:48am EST
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By Julien Pretot

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - At the age of 40, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen has more Olympic and world championship medals than birthdays.

On Wednesday, the Norwegian became the most decorated Winter Games athlete when he won his 13th medal with gold in the biathlon mixed relay at the Sochi Games.

The Norwegian, who made his World Cup debut in 1994, moved ahead of compatriot and cross-country skier Bjorn Daehlie's record of 12.

He has 52 medals in world championships and Olympics, and has now matched Dahlie's Winter Games record of eight golds.

After almost two years without an individual win, Bjoerndalen would have been forgiven for relying on the relays to add to his tally here since Norway, with Bjoerndalen in their ranks every time, have won all five world championships and Olympic relays since 2009.

Yet the soft-spoken Bjoerndalen started his Sochi campaign with gold in the 10km sprint.

On Wednesday, he made no mistake on the shooting range to help Norway win the first Olympic mixed relay.

Bjoerndalen, taking part in his sixth Games, looks set to continue his harvest as Norway are the favorites to win Saturday's relay.   Continued...

Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen skis during the mixed biathlon relay at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics February 19, 2014. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin