Biathlon fans do not need a special introduction of the retired Slovak athlete Anastasiya Kuzmina. The Russian-born athlete won three Olympic titles, and also three silvers. She was a World Champion too.
Before the beginning of the IBU World Championships Biathlon 2021 Pokljuka, the 36-year-old remembered her days competing in Slovenia in the column of the newspaper Denník Šport. She revealed her favourites for the first places.
“The first World Championships in this biathlon centre was in 2001, and I was watching it on television. That was soon after my decision to become a biathlete. I have many personal memories of Pokljuka as I was training there during the summer as well as in winter. Pokljuka, which is located under the highest Slovenian peaks, offers an amazing atmosphere,” Kuzmina wrote.
Even though she had often trained here, she has never managed to win at Rudno Polje: “I have never won in Pokljuka. I was successful at eleven other locations of the World Cup. After the second maternity leave, it was in Pokljuka where I returned to the World Cup circuit, in December 2016. In Pokljuka, I won a silver and bronze medal in the World Cup races.”
Apart from the memories, the sprint World Champion from 2019 also predicted her favourites to win a medal at this year’s World Championships. “In the season before the World Championships, the circle of favourites for medal winners quickly became clear. Among them are the medal winners of the World Cup races. Those are Norwegians Røiseland and Eckhoff. I also see French Simon on the podium. My former rival Sweden’s Hanna Öberg is as well one of the favourites. Also, I have to mention Italian Wierer who has already won in Pokljuka in the past, and German Herrmann,” Kuzmina said.
In the men’s competition, she also bets on Norwegians, especially on brothers Bø, and Lægreid, then on French Fillion-Mailleta and Jacquelina, Russian Loginov, and German Peiffer. “Maybe the home favourite Jakov Fak, two-time World Champion, will be successful. He could have a nice home championships,” Kuzmina wrote.