Darya Domracheva becomes world champion
By Vladimir Dmitriev
The World Biathlon Championships has become a high point of the season notable for a fight between Belarusian Darya Domracheva and German Magdalena Neuner. From the first starts, the both sportswomen claimed for supremacy at each race, also competing for the Big Crystal Globe (awarded to the best biathlete of Cup rounds). In Ruhpolding, Domracheva and Neuner came to the fore again, meeting face to face in the mixed relay; sadly, the Belarusian team failed to win a medal. Accordingly, the major fight between sportswomen took place in the sprint. During the 7.5km race, the Belarusian made no failures but spent too much time on finding the target and lost over 15 seconds to Neuner. The German won the same time in the pursuit which was a true sporting drama.
Domracheva was evidently quicker covering the distance, twice cutting the gap; however, her rival twice restored the position on the account of quick shooting. On the third firing range, Neuner seemed winning: Domracheva made a mistake while the German accordingly doubled her advantages and chances for success. To splitter the last doubts, Neuner needed to precisely shot for the last time. However, she failed twice! The Belarusian, in turn, shot all five targets and preserved her supremacy until the finish line.
Actually, the women’s pursuit was close to another scandal related to the distribution of medals after the finish. The first scandal occurred during the mixed relay when the panel with target failed to work and Norwegian Ole Einar Bjorndalen was sent to a penalty lag; the accident deprived the Slovenian team of four of gold. Jakov Fak was first to cross the finish line but the 30 seconds — which judges decided to minus from the Norwegian team — made Scandinavians world champions. After the pursuit finished, the German team voiced their protest, suspecting the equipment was operating incorrectly; they claimed to ‘delete’ one lost target from Neuner’s result. If this would happen, then Darya Domracheva would have win silver. However, after a long discussion, the decision remained unchanged.