Irina Starykh Wins IBU OECH Pursuit; Second Gold Medal
Irina Starykh of Russia was perfect on her way to her second Gold medal of the IBU OECH in this afternoon’s women’s pursuit, finishing in 30:04.4. Sprint winner Juliya Dzhyma of Ukraine had two penalties to win the Silver, 19.8 seconds back. Starykh’s teammate Svetlana Sleptsova with one penalty took the Bronze, her third medal of the week, 32.1 seconds back.
Veronika Vitkova of Czech Republic finished fourth with two penalties, 47.8 seconds behind. Another Russian, Svetlana Mironova moved up from 13th to 5th with three penalties, 1:29.6 back, while local favorite Monika Hojnisz started the competition 16th and finished 6th with a penalty in the last standing stage, 1:29.8 behind
Starting the competition first, Dzhyma led the pack with a 27-second advantage over her closest rival. For the first prone stage she came almost with the same gap, cleaning fast and leaving before the others even started to shoot. Sleptsova matched Dzhyma and reduced the gap by 5 seconds; she was followed by Starykh and Vitkova in the next 10 seconds. When the Ukrainian came for the second prone, the wind still was blowing from right to left, but now her rivals were closer. Not paying attention to the others, Dzhyma hit all the targets again and left the stadium in the lead. While Sleptsova went for a penalty loop, Starykh shot clean, moving up to second.
Battle of Three
Dzhyma was finishing her first standing stage when Starykh stepped on the mat behind her. The Ukrainian missed with the last shot, while the Russian was perfect again, so they both left the stadium separated by a mere 2.1 seconds. They were followed by Sleptsova, who dropped all five targets, 18.7 seconds behind. Everyone else was now pretty far from the medal contention, but it is biathlon; anything could happen. It did not. The strongest athletes proved that they were on the podium in the previous competitions not by chance.
Heard the Miss
Dzhyma kept her lead and came for the last standing first, but missed once, passing the clean-shooting Starykh ahead. While Ukrainian was at the penalty loop, Sleptsova was perfect at the range and they left the stadium together, 14 seconds behind Starykh. Starykh was very happy about her shooting today, “I was aiming to shoot clean today; I understood it was my only chance to get a win. When I came for the last standing, I heard that Juliya did not hit the target, so I had to clean it. I am really glad I managed to do it.”
Was Not Sure
After Starykh left with the Gold, now it was a battle for the Silver and Bronze. On the final loop Dzhyma gave it everything, fighting until the final meters, “I was not sure I was going to get a Silver medal until the end. It is biathlon and everything can happen: someone can fall down, or break a pole, especially that we had a full lap to go. I was trying to get away from Svetlana as quickly as possible.”