Martin Ponsiluoma – Sweden’s sensation in men’s sprint

25-year-old Swedish staged quite a surprise for his inaugural World Champion title. He has never won a World Cup race, but defeated all the favourites in sprint at IBU World Championships Biathlon 2021 Pokljuka. France’s Simon Desthieux claimed the silver (+11.2), overtaking his compatriot Emilien Jacquelin (+12.7), who completed the podium.

Ponsiluoma started the race early, going on the track as the sixth biathlete. He shot clean and delivered a dominant track performance to cross the finish line as the fastest. He was over the moon with the achievement: “It feels amazing. I am starting to realize it now. When I got the medal it felt really good. Then I started to understand what happened. I had a good feeling all day, I did not think anything about the shooting, I just did like I do on training. That’s what you have to do, you cannot think that you need to hit. It was hard to know how good this race would be. I had a start number 6 and no time. When I was in the finish I understood maybe I would get to the podium, but it was hard to imagine it would be a win. It’s a fantastic start to the championships. I hope we can make good results the whole World Championships. It will be hard to sleep tonight, but that’s life.”

While the Swedish was already waiting for the unravelling of the race, Desthieux has just started. The Frenchmen also dropped all the targets but was a little bit slower on the skis what resulted in the second place. “It’s fantastic. I went for that a long time ago, now it’s done. Beginning of the season was not the best for me. In January my shape was better, but I started a little bit slower. Today it was a great day for me. When I woke up, I knew this day would be great. Some days are like that. My shooting was good, my shape was ok, I did my best biathlon race since a long time ago,” 29-year-old Frenchmen commented after the race.

On the other hand, Jacquelin has been flying over the loop and claimed the bronze despite one prone penalty to bring a lot of joy to the French team. “I am super satisfied to be third. My goal was not to be on the podium but to be best ranked to make a great pursuit on Sunday. That’s my goal since the start of the training in May. I am already super excited about Sunday. There is no stress this time, because I just want to attack, to be who I am,” Emilien shared his happiness and plans for the next race.  

Mixed relay champion and the main favourite for today’s race Johannes Thingnes Boe put himself to a huge disadvantage with two prone penalties. Even his powerful skiing was not enough for the podium, finishing fifth (+22.5). The same goes for his teammate Johannes Dale, who finished fourth (+22.4) with one penalty. Another Frenchmen, Quentin Fillon Maillet (+23.9), completed the top six.

MEN, SPRINT (10 km)

1. Martin PonsiluomaSWE24:41.1 (0)
2. Simon DesthieuxFRA   + 11.2 (0)
3. Emilien JacquelinFRA   + 12.9 (1)