Wednesday. 29.11.2023

Sweden's Sebastian Samuelsson took his first ever individual victory on Saturday in a 12.5-kilometre men's pursuit at the biathlon World Cup meet in Kontiolahti, Finland.

The 23-year-old, an Olympic gold medalist in the relay, edged France's Fabien Claude by 15.8 seconds after just one failure in four visits to the range.

Last season's overall champion Johannes Thingnes Boe of Norway could only finish third, 19.5 seconds adrift after struggling with the rifle and racking up three penalty laps.

Boe still leads this season's standings after four races with 210 points. Samuelsson is second on 175.

"It is crazy...I do not know what to say. I feel just so happy, this is something I dreamt of since I was a little boy," said the Swede, only 18th in Thursday's sprint.

"It felt already so emotional on the last shooting when I was there with Johannes. He is a legend for me - to be able to shoot with him as an equal was an amazing feeling. The last lap was tough but I did my best."

It was a good day for Swedish biathletes with the women winning the first 4x6km relay of the season.

Infected athletes

The Swedes clocked 1 hour 12:44.5 seconds, 9.6 seconds ahead of France with Germany a distant third.

Finland's Kontiolahti is hosting a second successive series of races to replace Sweden's Ostersund in a move designed to cut travel and the risk of infection during the coronavirus pandemic. However, some athletes have been infected despite hygiene measures being in place.

One unnamed Bulgarian team member was in "close contact" with two Bulgarian biathletes who were in quarantine in Kontiolahti and has been banned until the end of January. The team have been fined.

The men are in action again in Sunday's 4x7.5 km relay and the women hold their 10 km pursuit.

Sweden's Samuelsson wins maiden men's biathlon pursuit in Finland