Norway’s biathlon legend Ole Einar Bjørndalen has vowed to focus on the World Cup series next season in a bid to pass 100 top-level victories after he abandoned his plans to retire from the sport.
The 42-year-old, an eight-time Olympic and 20-time world champion, had initially planned to retire after the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics only to extend his career by two years in order to compete at February’s home World Championships in Oslo.
He is now extending his illustrious career once again, however, until or even beyond the Pyeongchang 2018 Games.
This has already led Bjørndalen to resign his position on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes’ Commission after repeatedly missing important meetings.
In the past, the biathlete has prioritised major Championships over World Cup events, often missing legs in order to go altitude training..
“I want to race more in the World Cup and concentrate more on it than the World Cup,” he told Norwegian broadcaster NRK this time around.
“Of course, I am unlikely to win, but it will be only the second time in my career where the general classification will be the main goal of the season.
“In the past I had only done so in 2007 to 2008.
“This means that I will not do training camp at altitude and it will be more difficult to have a peak form at the World Cup.
“At the same time, however, I will race more than usual during the season.”
Bjørndalen has currently accrued 95 victories at top-level international events, meaning just five more would take him to a historic century.
Ninety-four of these have come in biathlon events, along with one in cross country skiing.
“Winning is always difficult, but in two years we will see where I am,” he added when asked if his ultimate target was Olympic gold in Pyeongchang.
“If I decide to go on, this is because they are sure I can be on top even when I am 44, otherwise I would have stopped.”
No replacement has yet been made for Bjørndalen’s position as one of five winter sporting representatives on the Athletes Commission.
Swiss Alpine skier Didier Cuche appears the most likely contender due to finishing in third place in the initial vote held during Sochi 2014.
By Nick Butler
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz