Bjørndalen – and the “sense of Wow”!

Ole Einar Bjørndalen40 years old, 6th consecutive Olympic Games, 20 years of competition at the highest level, 12 Olympic medals, 7 Olympic Golds  (so far), all in the biathlon. Wow! On only the second day of the Sochi games and my “sense of Wow” has been well and truly engaged.

I watched the 10km biathlon sprint yesterday at Sochi and Bjørndalen, in spite of missing one target in the shooting, was strong enough in the skiing sections to win. He was not the favorite since his results this season have not been spectacular and he has generally been considered the veteran in the twilight of his competitive career. Wow!

His Olympics career has been both long and spectacular:

Bjoerndalen Olympics medals (2014-02-09) Wikipedia

Bjoerndalen Olympics medals (2014-02-09) Wikipedia

He still has the chance of winning a few more medals.

BBCNorway’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen equalled the record for most medals won at the Winter Olympics as the 22nd Games got under way in Sochi, Russia. Bjoerndalen, 40, won the biathlon 10km sprint to take his tally to 12 medals, matching compatriot Bjoern Daehlie. 

Bjoerndalen finished ahead of Austria’s Dominik Landertinger and Czech biathlete Jaroslav Soukup to claim the seventh Olympic gold medal of his career.

“This victory has been a four-year job and it has been many years since I won (an individual gold medal), but life is too short to give up,” said Bjoerndalen. “I think this is one of my most important victories.” The Norwegian will get the chance to break Daehlie’s record in the men’s pursuit on Monday, but he played down comparisons between the pair. “It’s difficult to compare us at this time because Bjorn was some years ago and now we have a lot more disciplines,” he said.

The only faint shadow I perceive is that the achievements at Sochi not be later spoilt by revelations about doping. Whether or not Lasse Viren ever indulged in blood doping, some other Finnish athletes of his day did but it was not illegal at the time (1970’s). The Norwegian ski team in the 1990’s have also been accused of dirty tricks. The intense Alpine skiing events have had their share of rumoursMarit Bjoergen also won a gold yesterday in the skiathlon. She takes asthma medicine and has had dispensation to do so when it contained a banned substance (which is no longer banned upto certain quantities). In any event she has also faced accusations from her peers that her asthma inhaler was performance enhancing. I suppose being able to breathe is performance enhancing. But I thought that Pistorius being allowed to use blades to run in the summer Olympics was ridiculous. Why not allow a javelin thrower with a weak arm to use a “spear-thrower” attachment to his arm?

Usain Bolt generates a sense of Wow and there are no indications that he is anything but “clean”. But so did Ben Johnson generate the same sense of Wow when he won. And even Lance Armstrong. More often than not rumours of dirty tricks have – much later – been found to be true and sometimes banned.

I have a feeling that athletic team directors and doctors are continuously looking for legal performance enhancing methods and it takes a little time before any new methods discovered become widely known, spread and are then banned (like blood doping).  For an armchair spectator like me it is “the sense of Wow” which attracts and captures my imagination. I just hope that my  “sense of Wow” – not just at Bjørndalen’s fantastic achievements are not deflated and destroyed by later revelations of dirty tricks – even if they are not illegal for now. 

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