Martin Fourcade: French world champion claims biathlon gold on the line in photo finish
France's Martin Fourcade won gold in the men's 15km mass start biathlon by a ski length as he held off Germany's Simon Schempp in a tense photo finish.
The 11-time world champion had to climb into contention from behind though as poor shooting early on seen the 29 year-old drop to as low as 23rd position in a chasing pack.
It was a moment of deja vu for the Frenchman, who was knocked into second place in similar fashion by Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen, in the same event four years ago in Sochi. But the Norwegian collected a bronze medal this time around as Fourcade and Schempp battled it out for gold in the final sprint.
Fourcade, who is considered in his sport as one of the greatest to ever put on a pair of ski's, decided to lead from the front early on but a costly miss on the first shooting gate saw the six-time overall World Cup winner drop back.
Germany's Erik Lessler and Benedikt Doll took charge after the second shoot but Fourcade refused to be denied his chance for redemption as he regained the lead after the third shooting stage with a flawless run of successful targets.
However, German Schempp was right on Fourcade's tail by tenths of a second and the 2017 15km world champion chased France's hero down all the way to the finish line in a dramatic climax.
"I gave everything I had but I know that Simon is a really good sprinter and it's not my main quality, so I was thinking during the whole loop that to lose against the world champion of the mass start is not something bad," Fourcade said.
Schempp pulled level with Fourcade and both men dived over the line in hope of snatching the gold.
Fourcade slammed his ski's down in frustration as he thought he had lost the Olympic title again but after a tense wait, a photo finish ruled it was the Frenchman who claimed the top spot on the podium for his second gold medal of the PyeongChang Games.
Fourcade said: "Today I'm so satisfied because I was second eight years ago in Vancouver in the mass start, I was second four years ago and today I finally win this competition, so I'm really proud."
Fourcade won his first gold of the 2018 Winter Olympics in the 12.5km pursuit and now has four Olympic titles to his name in total, making him the most successful Olympian in French history.