Biathlon first appeared on an Olympic program in 1960 at Squaw Valley, with the men’s 20km individual competition. Klas Lestander of Sweden won the first Olympic biathlon competition, the men’s 20km.
Women first competed in biathlon at the Winter Olympics in 1992. The first woman to win an Olympic biathlon gold medal was Anfisa Reztsova, who also won a bronze that year in the relay for the Unified Team.
Made of medal
From 1980 to 1998, the men’s biathlon program featured three events, and no athlete ever won gold in all three. In 2002, the men’s program grew to four events, and Norway’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen won gold in all four (10km sprint, 20km individual, 12.5km pursuit and 4x7.5km relay). Bjoerndalen is the all-time Olympic medal-winner in the event with 11.
Norwegians Magnar Solberg (pictured) and Bjoerndalen are the only athletes to defend individual Olympic biathlon titles. Solberg won the men’s 20km in 1968 and 1972, and Bjoerndalen won the 10km in 1998 and 2002.
Canada’s Myriam Bedard edged Svetlana Paramygina of Belarus in the 7.5km competition in 1994 by just 1.1 seconds, the closest biathlon race in Olympic history. Bedard is Canada’s most successful biathlete, with three Olympic medals. Those medals are the only ones not won by a European at the Olympics.