3 legendary biathletes latest to be inducted into IBU Hall of Fame

Biathlon stars Magdalena Forsberg (SWE), Raphael Poiree (FRA) and Gabriela Soukalova (CZE) tonight were inducted into the IBU Hall of Fame at a special awards ceremony hosted ahead of the final competition weekend of the BMW IBU World Championships Biathlon Nove Mesto 2024.

The three athletes were chosen by the IBU Executive Board in recognition of their outstanding biathlon careers and significant contributions to the sport. Between them, the three inductees have won 103 World Cup competitions, 35 medals at the World Championships and 8 Olympic medals.

IBU President Olle Dahlin said:

“We are delighted to welcome three biathlon legends as our latest inductees into the IBU Hall of Fame. All three are hugely deserving of this recognition having not only accomplished incredible feats over their decorated careers but also leaving lasting legacies for biathlon in their countries.”

Sweden’s Magdalena Forsberg won six consecutive Total Score titles between the seasons 1996/1997 and 2001/2002, a women’s record that stands to this day. She achieved 36 individual World Cup wins and collected six gold medals at the World Championships and two 2 Olympic bronze medals before retiring in 2002.

"It's a great honour to be inducted in the IBU biathlon hall of fame. That was nothing I could have predicted in the first days of 1994: It's exactly 30 years since I competed in my first biathlon race - and I remember the first race wasn't close to hall of fame cause I remember when I approached the shooting range for the last standing shooting and the coaches shouted "Shoot fast cause you won't hit" - that was far from ideal, but I learned. I didn't listen to those guys standing by the tracks - but one I listened to every day for seven years and I still listen to is Wolfgang Pichler."

France’s Raphael Poiree has 38 individual wins in the World Cup to his name and won a silver medal in the Pursuit and two bronze medals in the Relay at the Olympic Winter Games. Poiree won six gold medals at the World Championships, three of those in the Mass start, where his famous rapid-firing technique gave him an advantage over the competition, at times over fellow Hall of Fame member, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, his greatest rival whom he shared a podium with 23 times. Poiree retired at the end of the 2006/2007.

I lived in a very small place, 300 people - I didn't know what was biathlon, so I said, ok I will try. Because whenever I went outside to do sports, I felt like myself. It was so great - and it was something really crazy and special with this sport, especially the shooting. The shooting is likely a mirror of yourself. When I was shooting, it was only me and the target. I love it. I spent so much time alone on the shooting, everyday I was on the range. I was the only one who practiced biathlon in my small town but I had one trainer who was with me all the time - and one day he stopped me when we were skiing in the mountains, looked me in the eyes and said "One day, you'll be a World Champion!" He gave me a dream and after I was very focused to give my all for this dream.

Czechia’s Gabriela Soukalova won 19 competitions in the World Cup, three medals - including silver in the Mass Start - at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, and six total medals at the IBU World Championships, including a Sprint gold in Hochfilzen 2017. Winner of the IBU World Cup Total Score title for the 2015/2016 season she also helped win the Czech Mixed relay a landmark bronze medal at the BMW IBU World Championships in Nove Mesto na Morave 2013. She officially retired in the spring of 2019.

I'm honoured to stand here next to the other biathlon legends - I have to admit I didn't expect something like this so early after the end of my career. I'm very glad for this because I couldn't end my career as I always wanted because of health issues, so today is such a great closing of my sport chapter I'm happy for all the nice moments from my athlete life. That was such a perfect feeling to stay many times at the podium after the races. On the other hand, I appreciate maybe much more all the mistakes I did and all the moments when I wasbn't able to stay at the podium. Because it was these moments, that made me better and stronger.

During the dinner, the IBU also awarded two longstanding commentators, Herbert Fritzenwenger and Christoph Hamm from German broadcaster, ZDF, who will retire at the end of this season with the IBU Certificate of Honour for their contribution to developing the sport into a successful TV product.

The IBU also honoured the pioneering efforts and dedication of retiring IBU Athletes Committee chair Clare Egan. The former US biathlete was heading the committee since 2018 and was the first athlete to serve as a full IBU Executive Board member in this function. Her term officially ends on 31 March 2024.

Photo: IBU/Manzoni

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