Men's biathlon team book Beijing spot at last minute

Raido Ränkel, one of the four-man biathlon team which has made it to Beijing.
Raido Ränkel, one of the four-man biathlon team which has made it to Beijing. Source: ERR

The men's biathlon team have clinched a place at next month's Beijing Winter Olympics at the eleventh hour, after finishing high enough in a World Cup competition in Ruhpolding, Germany, to qualify.

The top 20 nations' teams qualified, which the Estonians snuck in on at the last minute by placing 19th in the 4 by 7.5km relay Saturday, which coincidentally elevated them to 19th place in the overall rankings.

There was good news for the women's team also, on Friday, when the line-up of Regina Oja, Tuuli Tomingas, Susan Külm and Johanna Talihärm took eighth place, its highest in a World Cup round for nearly 28 years.

On Saturday, then men's team, consisting of Rene Zahkna, Kristo Siimer, Kalev Ermits and Raido Ränkel, was coming in off the back of 14th place in Hochfilzen, Austria, back in December, followed by strong individual results in Germany earlier this month, but still needed to place high enough to get a guaranteed Beijing spot.

In individual events, Ernits placed highest in the men's sprint race Thursday, passing the shooting rounds cleanly and finishing in 19th place.

Zahkna took 48th place, Siimer, 71st.

On Saturday, a team event involving all four was able to beat Germany by seven seconds, despite a penalty lap imposed on Ernits, with anchorman Ränkel brining the team home in 19th place, with 2285 points, ahead of Slovakia by 17 points and Japan by 104 points, and as noted enough to bag a ticket to Beijing.

The Beijing Winter Olympics start on February 4. They are the subject of a political boycott by various nations, including Estonia, meaning President Alar Karis will not be attending.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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