Samuelsson ready to challenge Boe next season

Never shy of taking on the most significant challenges, Sebastian Samuelsson beat seemingly invincible JT Boe in the Mass start at the BMW IBU World Championships Oberhof 2023. As it turned out, it was the only competition Johannes didn't win in 2023.

With his season cut short due to the C-19, Samuelsson had enough time to recover his body and reset his mind and is now ready to go deep in the summer and challenge Johannes next winter.

How is your health?

Good, thanks! Missing the last two World Cups of the season - especially the one on home soil - was no fun. On the positive side, I got some extra time at home that helped me to get a good recovery after the 2022/2023 season. I mustered a fresh motivation for following challenges. I am healthy and have done some training sessions, and everything is fine.

Have you found time to process the 2022/2023 season?

Yes! I am already looking forward to the next one!

What did you learn?

I had not done so many good races before Oberhof 2023, but I learned to keep believing in myself and pushing. When you do everything within your power, good moments happen. It sounds like a cliché, but it is true.

What would you have done differently?

I am not sure I would have done anything differently. Even though I am not happy with my performance many times during the season, I always do everything I can during and before the season. Then it is hard to be disappointed. Sometimes you are in the flow, sometimes not. But for sure, I will work hard this coming summer as well!

Which was your favourite moment?

The feeling I got in the 10-15 seconds when I got my gold-winning gap in Birxsteig at the Mass Start in Oberhof.

The Mass Start Gold medal felt like the crowning of your talent and the ‘Never let die’ attitude. You said it was the best race of your life (to date). Why?

I was relatively tired after a long championship, and I thought before starting that I wanted to make a fine last race. I knew nothing would come easy. But I was ready for a fight. I have only shot clean twice in a four-shooting discipline, in the Pursuit at the World Championships in Pokljuka, where I won silver, and in the Mass Start in Oberhof. To make the perfect race, one needs to shoot clean. In Oberhof, I also managed skiing tactics perfectly. And not only the final loop but all the loops. I was in front sometimes, but mainly I was calm and trying to save energy for later laps. After the two first loops, I felt the race tilting my way. I enjoyed it until the end.

What drove you through the last lap?

I felt strong! And I took the opportunity! I told myself: “If I want to be World Champion, then I have to go for it and be brave.” That is why I managed to go all in so early in the last lap.

You started the season strongly in Kontiolahti. And then your performance became quite volatile. Like the rest of the team, you hit your peak form in Oberhof: Was this part of the bigger plan?

No. I wanted to fight for the Total Score title and be good in all the World Cups. I was not consistent enough at the beginning of the season to match JT Boe, who was unbelievably strong. When I got sick during Christmas, I gave up my chances of winning the Crystal Globe. And then, of course, my focus shifted a lot toward Oberhof 2023. It is always hard not to do good races! But as a biathlete, you know you will do it sometimes. I will give the Norwegians a better fight daily next year!

Header iconBI28 - Hero - Sebastian Samuelsson - Oberhof 2023

You and Martin (Ponsiluoma) were the only people to have beaten Johannes in 2023. What is the key to beating him?

JT Boe was so strong you always had to do a perfect race (and maybe hope he would not) to beat him. But I always said it was possible, and I was right.

Is it realistic to go shoulder-to-shoulder with him for 10-12 weeks and keep the consistency?

Yes! If he can do it, others can do it!

If yes, what kind of mindset does that require? What kind of incredible physical effort would that be?

One thing is sure, JT Boe is a great athlete. And the season he had, was the best we have ever seen. To beat him consistently will be very hard. But with good work in summer - physically and on the shooting range - one can edge closer to his levels. For me, it is very moving to see what is possible. I plan to challenge him next season!

What will you do in the summer (apart from training)?

I will enjoy summer in Sweden with hopefully good weather, playing plenty of golf, and relaxing from the mentally tough winter season.

Is there an athlete from other sports for whom you buy a ticket to watch a match or a competition?

Not really. I hope to see a good football match in Stockholm or something. I do not follow football especially closely, but I want to feel the atmosphere!

Photo: IBU Photopool

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