Lesser wins golden pin in "Mass Start of Reserves"

Erik Lesser wins the 12.5km Mass Start of the reserves in Beijing, hitting 20/20 and was presented with a golden pin by Team Norway's coach Siegfried Mazet afterwards.

In Beijing, you see the happy tears of the winners, the sad ones of those who failed to do their best. You see the disappointment of a missed target in the final range and the pumping joy of a successful attack on the uphill leading to the finish line. What you don't see is the silent world of athletes who are in Beijing, but don't get the chance to experience these emotions. The best-ranked teams are in fact allowed to call up to five or six athletes per gender at the Olympics. But the starting quota cannot exceed four per competition: this often leads to athletes training every day during their stay at the Games getting only a single or no chance to compete at all.

Header iconReserves Mass Start Beijing 2022

On what promised otherwise to be a “lazy” training session following the women sprint and waiting for men's competition, nine athletes from six teams got their chance to compete for gold in an unofficial 12.5km Mass Start. Far from the glam of the cameras broadcasting the evening's medal hunt and with the sun shining high up in the sky, numerous successful World Championships, Olympics and World Cup athletes lined up in front of Siegfried Mazet. The French coach of the Norwegian team quickly made sure everyone knew what was the prize at stake and then gave the sign that started the competition.

Erik Lesser didn't compete in the sprint and pursuits in Beijing after a disappointing Individual. The German took the lead immediately and flew to a solo run without hesitation. Range after range, he built his advantage and hit all 20 targets, taking an undisputed win. Khalili and Bionaz kept up with the German just until the second prone, when mistakes opened the gap and eventually the second place was taken by Sivert Bakken. Khalili managed to recover to close in third.

At the end of the competition, Mazet hosted the ceremony and awarded Lesser with a golden pin. It might have not been a medal, but it was a great way to break the routine for all these athletes who are training hard, waiting for their chance, here in Beijing. With the relays coming up next week, some of them might finally get a starting bib again and then this competition could come more than handy.

For now, it was great to see such wide collaboration between teams and the genuine happiness of all athletes in competing, even if it was just for a golden pin.

Pictures: Manzoni/IBU

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