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Double gold for Kazakhstan in biathlon

23 Feb 2017
Sapporo, Japan, February 23, 2017: Yan Savitskiy and Galina Vishnevskaya combined to give Kazakhstan a golden double on the opening day of competition in biathlon at the 8th Asian Winter Games, shrugging off the effects of jetlag. Savitskiy won the men’s 10 kilometre sprint thanks to his near-perfect performance in shooting while Vishnevskaya took the women’s 7.5 kilometre sprint after a dominant display on her skis.

The two victories saw Kazakhstan draw level with China for the most gold medals in biathlon at all the Asian Winter Games combined. Both countries now have 15 in total, with Japan next with 10 in the increasingly popular sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting.

Competitors in Thursday’s men’s event had to ski three laps of the the Nishioka Biathlon Centre, twice stopping to fire five shots at targets, first in the prone position, then standing. For each miss, entrants have to ski a 150 metre loop as a penalty before rejoining the race.

Savitskiy missed once in the prone position but hit all his targets while standings, which proved decisive as he competed the event in 26 minutes 59.2 seconds. His Kazakhstan team mate Vassiliy Podkorytov won the silver medal, 15 seconds behind Savitsky, after missing two shots. The bronze medal went to Japan’s Mikito Tchizaki.

Savitskiy and Podkorytov were late arriving in Sapporo because they also competed at last week’s world championships in Austria so were still battling the effects of long-haul travel. "This win was not an easy one. We all arrived from Austria couple of days ago. It won't be a surprise if I say that the team is exhausted after the World Championships in Hochfilzen,” Savitskiy said.

“As for this win, the gold medal of Asiad 2017 in individual race is a good result to me. I am glad everything went well!" Vishnevskaya, who won two gold medals at this month’s World University Games held in her homeland and also raced at the world championships, won the women’s event in 20:32.6. A strong skier, the 23-year-old missed once from the standing position but pulled away to win by 24.2 seconds.

China’s Zhang Yan took the silver medal. Of the combined 46 competitors in the men’s and women’s races, she was the only one not to miss at least one shot. China’s head coach Song Wenbin said his team were in a transition phase but building towards the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. The bronze medal went to another Kazakh competitor, Alina Raikova.

We have had a very busy schedule this season, World Championship, Winter Universiade in Almaty, winter Asian Games,” Vishnevskaya said. “Athletes are used to traveling and changing time zones but it still has some effects of course. “I am happy that here today we showed an excellent result. We are a team and today worked together very well. Thanks to the support of our fans and family! It was well done!"
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