Tarjei Boe won the Total Score title in the 2010/2011 season. He had the honour to be a member of the Norwegian gold-winning relay at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games comprised of biathlon legends Halvard Hanevold, Emil Hegle Svendsen, and the great Ole Einar Bjoerndalen. Tarjei is a two-time world champion and the conqueror of 21 medals at the IBU World Championships. He completed the Cup score wins set with the individual this season but never won an individual Olympic trophy. Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games was his last chance, and he threw everything into making it happen. In the end, 1.7 seconds made all the difference to his career and life.
“This medal means everything. It was the thing that was missing in my career. I worked so hard for this medal, not just this year but the last four years. After the individual, I started to wonder whether there was a spell over my Olympic ambitions, wondering whether luck would ever befriend me again. I have never been a quitter and always pushed through disappointments. Today I was lucky as I won my bronze by just 1.7 seconds!" said Tarjei.
His happiness was only increased as he shared the podium with his gold-winning brother Johannes.
"I saw early in his career that there would come years when Johannes would be unbeatable. Sprint in Beijing is our second shared podium at the Olympics or the IBU World Championships after Johannes won gold, and I won bronze in the sprint in Kontiolahti 2015. We repeated the feat seven years later in Beijing as a testament to our strength."
“I am more proud of Tarjei than I am proud of myself,” said JT Boe after he won a gold medal in what he described as one of the best sprint races of his life. "For Tarjei, a bronze medal was a reward for life achievements in biathlon. It feels like gold to him. He pushed me very hard through my career and has been a great inspiration. Biathlon is easy compared to all sorts of the competitions I had with my brother before he left the family house with 16."
Thirteen seasons in the world cup
Tarjei debuted in the BMW IBU World Cup in the 2009/2010 season, finished 43rd in the Total Score, and won relay gold in Vancouver 2010. While he was trying to collect as many trophies as possible before Johannes reached his full potential, another surprise medalist from Vancouver 2010 edged closer: Martin Fourcade. Tarjei won the Total Score in 2010/2011, an incredible achievement for a 20-year old champion. He followed in the footsteps of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen and Emil Hegle Svendsen and was supposed to hold firm atop of the world’s biathlon before Johannes took over. Fourcade had other plans and won seven Total Score titles in a row before, indeed, Johannes took over in the 2018/2019 season.
A missing medal that means everything
Between Vancouver 2010 and Beijing 2022 Games, Tarjei won 21 medals at the IBU World Championships, including gold in the individual and mass start. After he finished second in the individual of Antholz-Anterselva this season, he won a Cup score in that discipline and completed the set of Globes in the world cup. With this rare accomplishment, Tarjei joined Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who also completed the set over many years. His brother Johannes, Raphael Poiree, and Fourcade managed it in one season.
Tarjei came the closest to an individual Olympic medal in the pursuit of PyeongChang 2018, where he finished fourth with three misses. The champion Fourcade, silver medalist Sebastian Samuelsson and third Benedikt Doll missed just once. He was within a medal in the individual in Beijing 2022 but missed once in the last standing shooting. A shot gone missing, again, cost him a medal. Then came sprint and an award that made sense of every shed tear, of every effort, setback, and success in his life. It was a tremendous relief mixed with happiness and a sudden realisation that he would never have to fight back remorse for things that never happened.
Tarjei also won a silver in the pursuit and was a fundamental building block in the mixed and men’s winning relays. But that was just the icing on the cake for a great man. For, despite all his grand achievements, Tarjei always stood out as a fair sportsman and a sincerely caring brother to even more talented Johannes and his teammates. That is why he said that bronze in the sprint, shared with Johannes, means 10-times more to him than many other medals in his career.
Photo: IBU/C. Manzoni