All-time Olympic great Ole Einar Bjørndalen, 39, said Wednesday he finally plans to retire from the biathlon following the Sochi Games in February.
“It’s clearly a heavy decision,” he told NRK Wednesday. “I think it’s fun to take part, to train hard and sacrifice everything – to put everything else aside to be the best possible in biathlon.”
Bjørndalen’s eleven Winter Olympics medals are the second most all-time, and he’s only one behind his similarly named Norwegian cross-country skiing compatriot Bjørn Dæhlie, which mean’s he could catch him with a good showing in Russia.
On top of six Olympics golds – including four from the Salt Lake Games – the legendary biathlete has also won an unfathomable 37 World Championships medals and 94 World Cup victories in his twenty-year career. He considered pushing himself through the 2016 Worlds on his home soil in Oslo, but thought the better of it since he’ll be 42 by that time.
Instead, Bjørndalen admitted to having some yet to be announced plans for his retirement:
“I’m working quite intensively with them, and have a lot of meetings right now,” he said. “That’s good for my head, too, because then I can break away from what I do every single day.”
Japan dressage rider Hiroshi Hoketsu, who abandoned his bid to become the oldest Olympian ever in Rio, could see his career come full circle in four years.
Hoketsu, whose Olympic debut came at the Tokyo 1964 Games, is not ruling out attempting to make the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at age 79.
“If I can do it and be in Tokyo, that would be marvelous,” Hoketsu said, according to Reuters. “I have to see if it will still be physically possible.”
The oldest Olympian is Swede Oscar Swahn, who earned 1920 Olympic shooting silver at age 72.
Hoketsu, 75 and the oldest Olympian at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games, sought to make his fourth Olympic team this year. It was derailed due to his horse’s illness.
After debuting at Tokyo 1964, Hoketsu went 44 years between Games appearances. He finished 41st out of 50 competitors in individual dressage at London 2012, according to sports-reference.com.
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Russia’s new track and field federation president said he thinks his nation’s track and field athletes have “between 50 and 60 percent” of a chance of competing in the Rio Olympics, according to Reuters.
The IAAF is expected to rule June 17 whether Russia’s ban from international track and field competition will be lifted before the Rio Olympics.
Russia’s track and field athletes were banned indefinitely in November by the IAAF, after an independent World Anti-Doping Agency report alleged widespread doping issues.
Russia was given criteria to earn reinstatement, and Dmitry Shlyakhtin, elected new Russian track and field chief in January, believes the situation has improved.
“A mouse would not be able to slip past us now!” Shlyakhtin said, according to Reuters.
Russia has recently come under more scrutiny following reports of widespread winter sports doping leading up to the Sochi Olympics and cheating during those Winter Games to avoid positive drug tests.
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