The King of biathlon

Johannes T. Boe closed the last chapter of the Olympic 2021/2022 season earlier than planned. The decision gave his body (and mind) enough room to erase the issues with the prone shooting and elevate his motivation. The result is the best season ever in biathlon: his fourth BMW IBU World Cup Total Score title, 19 World cup wins, seven medals at the BMW IBU World Championships Oberhof 2023, and many other records broken.

The experts define ‘The Zone’ as a state of supreme focus that helps athletes in all sports perform at their peak potential. You were in ‘The Zone' for the most part of the season. How would you describe your state of mind for the past four months?

I was focused 24 hours every day of the season. You try to do your best every day, every hour of the day. Even when it is Monday or Tuesday, and the competition is on Friday, you try to do your best on any training day. Winning the BMW IBU World Cup Total Score title is a long run. You have to be calm in your mind. One moment of break can destroy everything. You try to keep the momentum high. And never look at the final destination, just today: one day at a time.

You won 19 times in 2022/2023, a record. Have you found a formula to keep winning in series for the next few years?

Winning 19 times is a lot. It is actually crazy. I can’t say I can win 19 times again next season. What I can do is put down the work in the summer and try to bring my best performance on each competition day.

In the middle of the madness surrounding you at the BMW IBU World Championships Oberhof 2023, you said that being successful meant having a beautiful wife and a healthy son. That seven medals are just a bonus. Your family seems to be at the core of your success in biathlon.

It is two different lifestyles. Being a top athlete on the road. And being at home with your wife and a three years old son. Both can be a weakness and a strength. During the summer you need a lot of free time to recover and relax because the day is always full. But my son still needs my attention and I can’t sleep for one, maybe two hours after the training like in the World cup. When winter comes, you almost turn off the family life. You travel in three-week blocks and it is easier to recover with focusing just on one’s needs.

What worked so well for you in Oberhof?

Wet snow conditions suit me the best. They sap the energy of everyone early in the race, and then it comes down to the best skiing technique. That further gave me confidence in the shooting range: I knew a miss would most probably not be fatal.

You made two very impactful decisions in the past four years: you skipped two weeks of the World cup to be home for your son’s birth and still won the Total Score title in 2019/2020, and you finished a season after the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 last season. How well do you know your body to pull such big, bold decisions?

I am an athlete that can go a lot of races. I know how to live with a lot of pressure every day. Wanting to win the Total Score every year is a mental thing. It takes the best out of you. Winning the Total Score three years in a row is quite tough. Last year I had a chance to give myself a break earlier than usual. We have a break after each season, but the start of summer training comes around quite fast. Longer than-planned vacation gave my body time to erase some patterns in the prone shooting that troubled me the whole season.

Despite an earlier end to the season than anticipated, you visited Season’s Finals in Oslo. There was one moment of great significance, almost intimate, between two great champions that almost nobody saw: You congratulated Quentin Fillon Maillet and told him you would be back stronger in 2022/2023 to take the Crystal Globe back. Did you go deeper than ever in your training last summer?

The preparation was more thorough than before the Olympic 2021/2022 season. My motivation was incredibly decisive. After Beijing 2022, I told myself to take a break and get back more powerful than ever before. I really believed in it. A belief can take you all the way.

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