Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe nearly became the first biathlete to sweep all four individual gold medals at a world championships.
Boe, a 29-year-old who won four golds at last year’s Olympics (two in relays), captured the sprint, pursuit and individual, then took bronze in Sunday’s 15km mass start in Oberhof, Germany.
He finished with five gold medals, a silver and a bronze in the seven events at worlds, tying the record of seven medals at a single worlds. Biathlon worlds didn’t have seven events per gender until 2019.
Boe was compared to Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt in a post-race press conference Sunday, then handed a yellow road sign with “Boeberhof” replacing “Oberhof.”
“You must remember we are biathletes,” he said. “You have to be good to take seven medals. I’m not talking myself down, but Michael Phelps is quite another league. Same with Bolt as well.”
In Sunday’s finale, he led by 11.8 seconds going into the fourth and final shooting stage, but his third miss of the day proved too much to overcome.
He fell 6.8 seconds behind after skiing his penalty loop and ended up in third place, 16.5 seconds behind Swede Sebastian Samuelsson, who went 20 for 20 shooting on the day.
Boe still matched the record of five gold medals at a worlds shared by German Laura Dahlmeier (2017) and Norwegian Marte Olsbu Roeiseland (2020).
Biathlon worlds had four events per gender through 1996, then five starting in 1997. A mixed-gender relay was added in 2005 and another in 2019.
At last year’s Olympics, Boe shared the glory with Frenchman Quentin Fillon Maillet. They split the four individual men’s gold medals. The best biathlete at the Games may have been Roeiseland, who earned a medal in all four women’s individual events, including two golds.
This season, Boe won 11 of the 14 World Cup races going into worlds.
“After every race this season I have said in the mixed zone that the day when we beat him only comes closer and closer,” Samuelsson said. “Nobody believed me.”
A highlight at worlds was when Boe stopped before the finish line of last Sunday’s 12.5km pursuit — guaranteed to win by more than one minute in a 34-minute event — and mimicked countryman Erling Haaland‘s goal-scoring celebration.
Roeiseland earned one medal (a bronze) among the four individual women’s events at worlds. The golds were split among Swede Hanna Oeberg (two), German Denise Herrmann-Wick and Frenchwoman Julia Simon.
Deedra Irwin, 30, had the best individual U.S. finish at worlds — 20th place in the women’s individual. Last year, Irwin posted the best individual Olympic result for a U.S. biathlete in history with a seventh-place finish.
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It's a Norwegian thing 🇳🇴
Johannes Thingnes Boe imitates Erling Haaland's legendary celebration 🤝 pic.twitter.com/SE1E7Q9kaQ
— Eurosport (@eurosport) February 12, 2023