Wilkie and Liashenko tie for 7.5k sprint gold

On the first day of the 2024 Para Biathlon World Championships, there was a rare tie for first place. Ukrainian Liudmyla Liashenko and Canadian Natalie Wilkie both landed on the top spot of the women’s standing podium. Despite having to do a penalty lap, Liashenko still managed to cross the finish line in the same amount of time as Wilkie, 24 minutes and 11.3 seconds. Wilkie's teammate Brittany Hudak rounded out the podium in third place.

When asked about how she felt about her finish, Wilkie said, "Honestly it was even better than winning first by myself. Liudmyla is a crazy competitor, I know that she always does her best out on the course, and she’s also a really fast shooter and so it was quite an honour for me to be able to share the first place with her."

To start the day, American Oksana Masters won her fourth consecutive world championship medal. The day of 7.5km sprint races started with the women’s sitting category. Masters’ marksmanship was flawless, and she crossed the finish line in 27 minutes and 30.6 seconds. Anja Wicker claimed second spot on the podium with a time of 27 minutes and 32.7 seconds. Like Masters, the German also made no mistakes in her shooting. Rounding out the podium was Masters’ teammate Kendall Gretsch.

In the men’s sitting race, China’s Zixu Liu won gold with a time of 24 minutes and 45 seconds. His victory was aided by his accurate shooting on the rifle range, taking no penalty laps. Behind Liu on the podium was Ukraine’s Taras Rad, followed by China’s Mengtao Liu.

The men’s standing competition also saw a Canadian at the top spot on the podium – Mark Arendez. He finished the 7.5km sprint in 21 minutes and 5.5 seconds, despite having to complete a penalty lap after his first visit to the rifle range. In second was Ukranian Serhii Romaniuk, followed by German Marco Maier in third.

To end off the day, the vision impaired class of athletes took to the course. The women’s sprint saw the Germans dominate, with all three reaching the podium. Linn Kazmaier took top spot, with a time of 24 minutes and 50.8 seconds, including one penalty loop. Leonie Maria Walter finished in second place, followed by Johanna Recktenwald.

The final race of the day saw Ukranian Oleksandr Kazik win the gold medal for the men’s vision impaired category. Even though Kazik had to complete two penalty loops after his second time at the rifle range, he managed to cross the finish line in 21 minutes and 27 seconds. Frenchman Anthony Chalencon won the silver medal and Ukrainian Iaroslav Reshetynskyi rounded out the podium in third place.

On Thursday, the 12.5km individual competition will take place for men and women in all categories. Images: Kelly Bergman/Caledonia Nordic

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