Quentin Fillon Maillet of France had no expectations of coming away from the 2022 Winter Olympics with more than two medals. His goal was to win one in the relay and one in the individual after he left PyeongChang empty handed.
Four years later, Maillet has dominated every event he's competed in with clean shooting and quick ski times. He has earned himself an almost guaranteed spot in the top three in each competition and will have two final chances to win medals in the men’s 4x6km relay and 15km mass start. If Maillet wins medals in both events, he will have won a medal in each event he entered in, and become the first athlete to ever win six gold medals at a single Olympics.
He started the 2022 Olympic biathlon program barreling out of the gates and clinched his first silver medal in the mixed relay behind Norway’s team spearheaded by powerhouse Johannes Thingnes Boe. Maillet made up for lost ground on the course with his ability to scale inclines and maintain a consistent pace. He anchored the last leg of the relay and crossed the finish line less than a second behind Norway. The effort helped Maillet accomplish one half of his goal, but little did he know, his streak was just beginning.
No one would have guessed the 20km event was the first time Maillet clinched an individual Olympic gold with his unwavering 90% accuracy on target in the standing shooting stage. He completed the race in 48:47.74, with only two missed targets out of 20, to hold off Anton Smolski of Belarus. Although Smolski went clean in the range, he could not match Maillet’s speed on his skis in the last loop and finished second. Maillet said clinching his first individual Olympic medal was a dream come true after seeing his hard work throughout the season come to fruition.
"When I was very young I dreamed of this and right now it's a reality. Today with two misses I never thought I could be on the podium, but right now it's a reality. It's a very, very good moment. It was my big goal of this season."
Maillet maintained his momentum coming into the 10km sprint four days later and used the rest and recovery period in between to his advantage. After winning 20km individual gold, he felt the pressure of performing another gold-medal run lift off his shoulders. Maillet said he trusted his abilities enough to know he could put down another elite performance in the sprint, which was going to be “the key for getting the gold.” And he did.
Rankings in the 10km sprint majorly affected the quality of an athlete's run in the 12.5km pursuit. Athletes started the event in intervals according to their final time in the sprint. Maillet earned silver in the 10km sprint sandwiched in between the two Boe brothers. Although it was not gold, his silver medal set him up for success in the pursuit, where he passed Thingnes Boe when he uncharacteristically missed seven shots on target. Maillet shot clean through the brutal blizzarding conditions to double his expectations for medals entering the Games.
His key to dealing with the pressure of competing at the highest level is to stay focused on himself. With two gold, one silver and one bronze under his belt, Maillet will have to keep his blinders on to continue his medal-winning streak.
Maillet’s chance to earn his fifth piece of Olympic hardware starts with the men's 4x7.5km relay on Feb. 15 at 1:30 a.m. ET.