Silver with the slight touch of gold

Belarusian biathlete Darya Domracheva wins silver medal at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics mass-start. Darya was flawless at the first two prone shooting rounds, however was remaining 10 seconds behind the superfast Slovakian Anastasia Kuzmina. After the first standing Darya missed one shot and rolled back to the 5th place. Nevertheless during the 4th lap she caught up with the group pursuing Anastasia Kuzmina and came to the final shooting round along with four other biathletes. All of them made one miss, Domracheva on the other hand pulled off a clean shooting. At the last lap she was steadily holding on to the second place and even managed to narrow the gap to the winner Anastasia Kuzmina (0+0+0+1). The Norwegian biathlete Tiril Eckhoff took bronze (1+0+1+0).

Darya Domracheva claimed her fifth Olympic medal overall in addition to three gold medals at the 2014 Sochi Games and one bronze at Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

The three-time Olympic champion Darya Domracheva summed up the Pyeongchang mass-start results where she claimed silver and noted that most likely she will not come to the next Olympics that will be held in Beijing in 2022.

Were you satisfied with today’s run?

Before making any comments I have to speak with the service men first about the gear preparation, all skis that are used in the Pyeongchang races. We will certainly make a detailed analysis of the run. At the first lap I had the feeling that skis didn’t glide that well. However starting from the second lap it got way better and I knew that now I can show my speed. So like in any other sport there are some specifics and nuances.

How was the atmosphere after the tough luck you’ve had in the first days?

Everyone in the team tried not to show nervousness, however it was still in the air. We all understood that we needed to realize our chances, to perform better than in the first races. I just want to say once again how incredibly happy I am to have won silver medal in Pyeongchang. It’s great that now I also have silver Olympic medal in my collection. It’s my first medal of this kind.

Was it realistic to win over Anastasia Kuzmina?

It was… Perhaps… But I must say that Nastya (ref. Anastasia) was so strong at these Games… She completely deserved to win gold today.

After the fourth shooting round you were at your limit, weren’t you?

First of all at the last shooting round I was trying to perform at the very best. I was aiming to close all five targets. I think it was obvious I was experiencing hypercompensation, trembling … Was sweating a bit… but I closed all the targets, as I knew that these last shots would determine the end of the race and therefore the podium.

Can you imagine what people felt when watching your last shooting round?

Oh, I bet it was a nightmare… I cannot imagine what our coaches have to go through. And it doesn’t matter from where they are following our races: from the shooting range, from the track or on the computer screen… It is difficult to describe their feelings and emotions.

Silver with the slight touch of gold?

I am absolutely certain that considering all the obstacles we had to overcome at the Olympics I will value and cherish this medal even more.

Have you managed to prove that your pre-Olympic training plan was drawn up the right way?

I knew I was well prepared for the Games, but unfortunately in the first days of the competition certain situations and issues were keeping me away from the podium. I’m happy that on Saturday I managed to cope with all the difficulties. I overcame them and got on the podium... You know, before the start I really wanted to make all my fans and people who supported me, who sent me encouraging messages full of positive energy and support happy. I sincerely wanted to give all of them good vibrations and energy. I’m delighted that I achieved that goal. The tension that was in the air from the very beginning of the Olympics accompanied not just me, but all sport fans, my family and my team. So yes, just as you said today’s silver is with the touch of gold due to some invincible obstacles and troubles we’ve had.

Which one of all three Olympics were the toughest for you? Pyeongchang?

Taking into account all the ordeals that we have to go through I’d say so.

Mass-start was in fact the last chance to win the individual medal here. Can we start speculating about the next Olympics?

I don’t think about it just yet. It’s too soon to plan anything. I am not 100% certain; however this could be my last Olympics.

Can Belarusian fans at least count on seeing you competing for another year or two?

First of all we need to close this season and then we can make further plans. The next race is the main priority now, so it’s important to stay focused and to not pay attention to anything else.

Where is your daughter these days?

She is in Minsk with her grandmother, whereas Ole Einar Bjorndalen is of course here with me supporting any way he can. He helped me to cope with the difficult situations and also helped our service men to test the skis. Today he was also on the track and it turned out to be a good sign for me.

Also I would like to remark that when you come to the Olympics all the training has already been done, therefore you need to come out on the track and show the best you can.

Are you superstitious? Yesterday you were among the first in the social network to congratulate Hanna Huskova with the gold medal in freestyle skiing.

Haha, I have no idea, whether it’s the lady luck reacted to my message or something else, but my congratulations were absolutely sincere. On Friday we watched the girls’ performance live on the internet and were cheering for them with all our hearts. To tell the truth we were down about the 4th place for Alla Tsuper! She was so close to the podium… but when Hanna took the gold we were jumping up and down like crazy! Certainly her medal was sort of a breakthrough for the whole Belarusian team at the Olympics, and maybe in some way this medal helped to soothe the tension, including the tension in our team.

Artsiom Fando / "Pressball"