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Sports

German biathlon hope Neuner narrowly misses out on gold in Vancouver

Germany’s world champion biathlon star Magdalena Neuner was content to pick up a silver medal after a narrow defeat at the Winter Olympics. The country’s other female biathlon hopefuls did not fare nearly so well.

Germany's Magdalena Neuner during the event

Neuner admitted that she lost strength towards the end

Germany's biathlon ace Magdalena Neuner lost to her Slovakian rival by only the narrowest of margins but claimed Germany's first medal.

Neuner, who has won six world championships, picked up a silver medal while Anastastiya Kuzmina emerged victorious in the 7.5 kilometer sprint skiing and shooting event.

Kuzmina finished the skiing section 1.5 seconds ahead of the 23-year-old German, who also missed one target on the shooting range.

'One mistake is good'

Despite being so close to her first Olympic gold, Neuner said that she was delighted with the result. "I am very happy, it is a silver, it is great. One mistake is good," she said.

Neuner won her first world championship in 2008 and was making her Olympic debut. She has a reputation as a fast skier but is also known for regularly missing shots. "I was hardly nervous, very focused and looked forward to the race," she said.

But Neuner did admit to running out of strength. "I gave everything I had, she said. "If only I could have gone a little faster. I lost strength in the last leg."

Doubts about winner's fitness

Kuzmina, whose fitness ahead of the games had been doubtful after she broke her left hand in a training fall last year, finished the 7.5 kilometer (4.7 miles) ski course in 19 minutes, 55.6 seconds. She incurred one penalty point in shooting.

"I was in good shape and the skis went well, so here I am," said Kuzmina who admitted she was "surprised" to have won.

Marie Dorin of France took bronze, 10.9 seconds behind Kuzmina on the skiing course.

Germany's other female biathlon hopefuls were less successful with Simone Hauswald finishing in 26th place, Andrea Henkel in 27th and Kati Wilhelm in 30th spot.

rc/Reuters/AFP
Editor: Rick Demarest