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Biathlon Worlds: bronze medal for Julia Simon, beaten by Vittozzi and Hettich-Walz

The Italian Lisa Vittozzi won the individual event at the Biathlon World Championships in Nove Mesto on Tuesday, ahead of the German Janina Hettich-Walz and the French Julia Simon.

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Biathlon Worlds: bronze medal for Julia Simon, beaten by Vittozzi and Hettich-Walz

The Italian Lisa Vittozzi won the individual event at the Biathlon World Championships in Nove Mesto on Tuesday, ahead of the German Janina Hettich-Walz and the French Julia Simon. The spearhead of French biathlon won a fourth medal in as many races in the Czech Republic after his successes in the sprint, pursuit and mixed relay.

The extremely demanding format of the individual, five laps of three kilometers interspersed with four passages on the shooting range and a one-minute penalty for the slightest mistake, is the one that escapes Julia Simon for the moment. In her career, in the World Cup or during major championships, the biathlete from Les Saisies has won in all other types of races (sprint, pursuit, mass start), except this one. Early Tuesday evening, in the Czech resort of Nove Mesto, the temperatures finally found a slightly wintry feel, around 2 or 3 degrees during the race. On the other hand, the wind remained as calm as ever and almost non-existent on the shooting range.

In these conditions, flawless performance was an obligation to go for gold, and Julia Simon released a very small ball, the 17th of her twenty shots (since the start of the Worlds, she shot 58/60). “You won’t be able to make me regret this ball. I am really very proud of what I am achieving, and it remains a podium, with a 19 on an individual. I’m really very happy,” said Julia Simon with a big smile behind her FFP2 mask. The crazy dream of winning the four individual titles at stake in the major championships, a feat that no one has managed to achieve since the introduction of the mass start in 1999 to the program of the Worlds and then the Olympics in 2002, thus flew away on this ball.

Because in front of Julia Simon, the Italian Lisa Vittozzi and the German Janina Hettich-Walz cleared their twenty targets. Slower on skis compared to the Frenchwoman, they respectively kept thirty and nine seconds to take gold for Vittozzi and silver for Hettich-Walz. This is the first individual title for the Transalpine, and the first solo medal for the German. “I didn’t leave my race, it’s just that there, I came across people who were much stronger than me,” admitted Julia Simon.

She is the only biathlete at the 2024 Worlds to have reached the podium in the four races contested so far in seven days (gold in mixed relay, sprint and pursuit, bronze in individual). “Being on the podium at the world championships is still very hard to achieve. All athletes train for this. An error on an individual is noticeable, it’s a lot, but a 19/20 is still a good race,” said Julia Simon.

The French biathletes were accustomed to the exceptional in the Bohemian-Moravian Mountains, with a quadruple in the sprint (Simon ahead of Justine Braisaz-Bouchet, Lou Jeanmonnot and Sophie Chauveau) and two tricolors on the podium in the pursuit (Simon in gold , Braisaz-Bouchet in bronze). Tuesday, they once again achieved a nice group shot, with Jeanmonnot 6th (one shooting fault) and “JBB” 7th (three shooting faults, best time on skis).

The French biathlon has seven medals halfway through the race - with the record haul of eleven medals at the 2016 Worlds in Oslo in the sights - carried by its women's team. The men are in the running early Wednesday evening for the individual (20 km), and hope to finally unlock their counter, they who have not yet climbed solo on the podium this winter.

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