Ole Einar Bjørndalen, the most decorated male Winter Olympian with 13 medals, tearfully announced his retirement from biathlon on Tuesday, according to the International Biathlon Union.
Bjørndalen, a 44-year-old Norwegian, said he suffered from heart murmurs this season.
“My motivation is unstoppable,” he said, according to the IBU. “I have the pleasure and motivation to hold on to sports that are just amazing. I would like to take a few more years, but this is the last season.”
The Biathlon King’s Olympic career ended two months ago, when he was left off Norway’s team for PyeongChang, ending a bid for a seventh Winter Games.
Bjørndalen was omitted because of poor form up to that point in the season — individual results of 18th, 31st, 18th, 28th, 46th, 52nd, 36th and 42nd in World Cups. He also competed in the last three World Cups after the Olympics. Bjørndalen had three episodes of the heart issue during the season.
“It is not dangerous, but it is a discomfort,” he said, according to the IBU. “I always got it in a state of rest, never under stress, so I was never sure if I should compete or work hard. … We got it under control. … I responded well and received very good help from my health team, but I was constantly a concern.”
Bjørndalen became the oldest individual Winter Olympic champion in Sochi, where he also passed countryman Bjørn Daehlie for the career Winter Games medal record and tied Daehlie for the career gold-medal record (eight).
In PyeongChang, countrywoman and cross-country skier Marit Bjørgen earned five medals and two golds to break the total medals record (15) and tie Bjøerndalen and Daehlie with eight golds.
In 2016, Bjøerndalen committed to one more Olympic run after capturing medals in three of four individual events at the world championships in Oslo.
He also announced that spring that he and Belarusian biathlete Darya Domracheva, who won three golds at the Sochi Olympics, were having a baby.
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