Tiril Eckhoff – from anxiety to World Champion titles

Norwegian Tiril Eckhoff was the winner of the first three races at the IBU World Championships Biathlon 2021 Pokljuka. With this achievement, she wrote biathlon history as she is the first female biathlete to win three consecutive gold medals in the first three events of the World Championships since Mixed Relay was included in the competition programme as the first event of Championships in 2011.

With her victories in sprint and pursuit Tiril Eckhoff became the first female biathlete after the World Championships in Kontiolahti to win in sprint and then repeat the success also in pursuit. Marie Dorin Habert was the last one with this achievement in 2015. So far five female biathletes won in sprint and pursuit at the same World Championships.

30-year-old Eckhoff was considered one of the main favourites for the medals before the races. She won last three sprints before the championships and was also second. But behind the success also lies uncertainty and anxious feelings.

The competitor, born in Baerum, was very disappointed in the sprint race at last year’s World Championships in Anterselva, as she was only 59th. She paid much more attention to mental preparation this season, which proves to be a successful move after her first performances in Pokljuka.

As the new Champion told Norwegian television NRK, her sprint performance was a significant achievement in mental terms. “The feeling is wonderful. It was hard for me after last year’s disastrous World Championships and I really wanted revenge. Now I’m happy to say I’m mentally strong. To stand and cover the targets. I can finally pat myself on the back and say to myself, that was it. I was told I am not good at the Championships, now I have proved them wrong,” said the competitor, who also shed some tears of happiness and relief after the victory.

This year’s season is the most successful for her – she already has eight victories. “That’s the way biathlon is. When you’re on top, you ride a wave, but when you’re on the ground, you find yourself somewhere on the high seas,” Eckhoff said in an interview with NRK.

The poor performance from Anterselva hung like a dark cloud over her. Coach Sverra Huber Kaas also admitted to NRK that Tiril was extremely nervous before the first individual race of the Championships in Pokljuka: “She had a short break from competitions, but she still had thoughts about what happened last year. Then there is a new arena and a new scenario. She was a little nervous and stressed but she did her job perfectly. She was almost in tears, because she was afraid that the same thing would happen as last year. Then she covered all the targets and was fast on the track. Unbelievable. She turned last year’s experience to her advantage. “

According to coach Kaas, the successful performances of Tiril Eckhoff also have a positive effect on the rest of the team: “This is very good. Last year we noticed that with Marte’s success, the whole team gained momentum. It is very important that we started so well.”