PYEONGCHANG, South Korea, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Hanna Oeberg was in eighth place, almost a minute behind the leader, with her nation’s king watching from the stands when she decided to put on a show that resulted in an Olympic silver medal for Sweden on Thursday.
In tough weather conditions, the 15km individual Olympic biathlon champion sliced through the pack, shooting accurately and skiing brilliantly to return to the podium at the Pyeongchang Games alongside her relay team mates.
“She’s very good, quite simply, that’s it, fantastic,” the king said.
Having seen her claim an individual gold medal, Oeberg’s team mates believed in her ability to turn the race around despite the windy and snowy conditions, but they were by no means sure she could pull it off.
“I had hope, when she exchanged it was just under a minute and I know Hanna is in super form. I couldn’t let myself believe that it would go this well,” Mona Brorsson told Reuters.
“I was in getting changed and I didn’t have so much hope for the last leg, I didn’t know where she was at the exchange, and there was a gap to the top and they had good racers on the last leg too,” Anna Magnusson said.
“Then when Hanna left the last shoot in third place, I thought we’re going to get a medal, she’s not going to let this go. I felt safe in that,” Magnusson added.
Lead-off racer Linn Persson had perhaps the worst weather conditions to contend with.
“It was tough, it was hard. Especially on the shooting range I felt the wind was blowing a lot,” she said.
But Oeberg, who shot to stardom in her home country following her win in the individual race, never doubted that she could close the gap.
“I believed that it was possible. I saw the relay earlier and I saw that there was big swings earlier in the race. When I went out I thought I’d do all I could and if I can focus on the shooting range it could take us far,” Oeberg told Reuters.
“Maybe I didn’t believe that it would take us all the way to a medal, but when I went out after the last shoot, it was just a case of going for it” she added.
In doing so, she completed a comeback fit for a king.
“It looked so difficult, it looked very hard, but we were saying in this group that I was standing with that you can never give up,” the king said after congratulating Sweden’s medal winners. “There’s always a chance in this sport.” (Reporting by Philip O’Connor, editing by Ed Osmond)