ZHANGJIAKOU, China – Despite the harsh cold, tears poured as Therese Johaug sailed past the finish line in the skiathlon to capture the one reward she craved most but had never achieved – an individual Olympic gold medal.
The 33-year-old Norwegian had enjoyed great success in a career stretching back to 2006 but her modest Olympic achievements pale into insignificance when compared with her countrywoman Marit Bjoergen, the most successful Winter Olympian of all time.
The 33-year-old Norwegian had achieved considerable success in a career that began in 2006, but her Olympic accomplishments fade into insignificance when compared to her countrywoman Marit Bjoergen, the most successful Winter Olympian of all time.
“It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little girl,” a tearful Johaug told reporters.
“Today I could cross the finish line and know that I am an Olympic champion,” she said.
Her 2014 Olympic performance in Sochi resulted in silver and bronze medals but no gold, and her participation in Pyeongchang was thwarted when she tested positive for a banned substance, resulting in a ban that forced her to miss the 2018 Games.
On Saturday, after changing skis, all she could see was the route ahead of her and the finish line.
“I have not given priority to those around me in recent years to achieve this goal,” Johaug said.
That kind of focus was the trademark of Bjoergen’s illustrious Olympic career, which earned her 15 medals, eight of which were gold.
Johaug could add to her new gold collection in the coming weeks, as cross-country racing at the Beijing Games is still in its early stages.