Martin Fourcade takes gold in most thrilling win of PyeongChang Olympics

Simon Schempp, of Germany, left, and Martin Fourcade, of France, right, race across the finish line during the men’s 15-kilometer mass start biathlon at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Want an example of how thin the margin of victory is in Olympic competition among the most elite athletes in the world? French biathlete Martin Fourcade provided the evidence by winning his second Olympic gold in PyeongChang in a 15 kilometer mass start biathlon competition by mere centimeters.

Fourcade, who was watching his opponents skis when he crossed the finish line, believed he’d finished second to Germany’s Simon Schempp and slammed his pole in frustration. Fourcade had good reason to be frustrated. He’s finished second at the past two Olympics in the same event and was scarred by a loss in the event in Sochi to Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen by three centimeters.

However, after a minute lapsed, the photo finish revealed that Fourcade’s left boot barely crossed ahead of Schempp and afterwards his relief was palpable.

“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,” he said, according to Reuters.

“But also I was in the place of Simon four years ago so I will stay really humble.”

Fourcade’s gold set a new high mark for most medals by a Frenchmen, prompting France’s president Emmanuel Macron to tweet a congratulatory message.

Macron’s tweet, translated into English reads, “@martinfkde makes us tremble and dream a second time by winning a new gold medal for France. A legend of the Olympic Winter Games and biathlon.”

Fourcade beating Schempp to the finish on skis made up for his terrible showing in Thursday’s 20-kilometer individual race when he lost out on the gold and dropped off the podium by missing on his final two shots.