The biathlon world championships are underway in the southern German town of Ruhpolding. German star athlete Magdalena Neuner has high hopes for medals before heading into retirement.
Magdalena Neuner is just 25 years old and has already won two Olympic gold medals and 10 world championship titles. She was voted German sportswoman of the year in 2007 and 2011.
Now she has announced that she wants to win big in the biathlon world championships taking place in Ruhpolding in the southern German state of Bavaria. Running from March 1 to March 11, the championship brings together over 400 athletes from 40 countries.
Her fans were surprised when the German athlete announced her retirement early in the season, saying that there is a life beyond twinning rifle shooting and cross-country skiing. She said she was looking forward to leading a quiet life in her Bavarian village of Wallgau.
"There could be no better place for my farewell than Ruhpolding," she said. "There will be many people in attendance who are important and close to me."
The German team includes five more female athletes – among them 21-year-old youngster Miriam Gössner and 34-year-old veteran Andrea Henkel, who has several World Cup and Olympic titles under her belt. The men's team is headed by Arnd Peiffer. Three-time Olympic champion Michael Greis, 35, is also back after taking time out with an injury.
The veteran of veterans, however, is Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who is still competing at age 38. Only two weeks ago he won his 94th World Cup race in Finland.
This is the fourth biathlon World Championship to take place in Ruhpolding – following those in 1979, 1985 and 1996s. The small town with 6,000 inhabitants is expecting more than 200,000 fans to attend the 11 races.
rg/ccp ( dpa, SID)