(ATR) Norwegian biathlete Ole Einer Bjørndalen has announced that he will continue his athletic career through 2018, while also resigning from his post with the IOC Athletes Commission.
The 13-time Olympic medalist made his intentions known at a press conference in Oslo on Tuesday morning. If Bjørndalen, 42, competes in PyeongChang 2018, it will be his seventh Olympic Games.
"To retire on the top of my game is not a topic for me – I really like to train and compete. Why retire then?" Bjørndalen said at Olympiatoppen headquarters in Oslo.
"To retire on the top of my game could have been fun, but that time has passed," he said. "To move the boundaries is a great motivation for me."
The legendary Norwegian biathlete also addressed his decision to step down as a member of the IOC Athletes Commission, leaving Norway with just one IOC member, Gerhard Heilberg. Bjørndalen was elected to the position by his fellow athletes in February 2014.
"I've had a good dialogue with the leaders, and together we have decided that I will retire from the Athletes Commission," said the Norwegian. "I can´t be a member when I´m not able to contribute more than I can."
In a statement the IOC announced that it has accepted the resignation of Bjørndalen. "Mr. Bjørndalen had always kept IOC President Thomas Bach informed of his decision making," it began.
"We agree with this move by Ole Einar," said Bach. "It was the correct decision since his sporting commitments did not allow him to carry out his function as IOC Member in the way he wanted to. We will stay in contact and we wish him all the best in his athletic career."
Bach had previously released the 13-time Olympic medalist from his duties with the IOC until the end of the Biathlon World Championships in Oslo last month. The "King of Biathlon" postponed retirement for the first time following the Sochi 2014 Games.
The IOC noted that a decision on Bjørndalen’s replacement will be taken in due time. However, as the replacement is not elected, he/she will not have voting privileges.
At last month’s world championships at the Holmenkollen in Oslo, Bjørndalen demonstrated he is still at the top of his game, winning four medals, including gold in the men’s relay. The medal tally on home snow increased his world championship career total to 44, more than double his nearest challenger.
"I think most of the media people, the national federation and we as organizers didn’t think he could be that good here," said Per Bergerud, the CEO of the Oslo 2016 organizing committee about the 42-year-old biathlon great. "He has surprised everybody."
"I feel like a very fit 20-year-old," Bjørndalen added. "My body responds to training, and every day I look forward to my training sessions. There were very few things that pointed at not continuing."
Bjørndalen also made it known that he and Belarusian biathlete Darja Domratsjeva are expecting a child together and they are now officially a couple. The child is expected in October.
The Norwegian biathlon star tweeted on Wednesday: "The coming years will be exciting. Thanks for all congratulations. The road is set for both career and family."
Written by Brian Pinelli
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