SOCHI, Rus., March 14, 2014 —Mark Arendz gutted out an 11th-place biathlon finish on Friday at the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Sharp all week while winning two medals, the Paralympic gods dealt the 24-year-old Canuck a blow heading into the final biathlon competition with an intense head cold. Debating whether to even start, the Harstville, P.E.I. native put all the energy he had on the line, but struggled to 11th in the men’s standing 15-kilometre race, clocking a time of 40:34.2 (1+0+0+1).
“Starting today was touch and go but we made the decision this morning to do it,” said Arendz. “The skiing and shooting has been there and the fitness has been incredible so it is frustrating that I got sick now.”
The long distance biathlon events put a premium on shooting with every missed shot costing the athlete a one-minute penalty. Arendz missed two under cool, cloudy and calm conditions at the Laura Stadium.
“If there is any race you have to rely on the shooting it is this one and I missed it a little,” added Arendz. “The focus was there today. It is just a lot battling the ups and downs with the sick. The shape is just so incredibly good right now. I wish I stayed healthy. Makes me hungry for another four years I guess.”
Ukraine’s Grygorii Vovchynskyi shot clean to capture the gold with a time of 37:41.1. Norway’s Nils-Erik Ulset was also clean on the range to win the silver at 37:44.2, while Russia’s Kirill Mikhaylov went 20 for 20 in shooting to post a third-place time of 37:45.6
Earlier in the day Ottaway’s Caroline Bisson competed in the women’s 12.5-kilometre standing race where she placed 12th at 56:21.8 (1+2+0+1).
Oleksandra Kononova, of the Ukraine, won the women’s standing class with a time of 40:30.6 (0+0+1+0).
All is not bad for Arendz. He became the first Canadian ever to win a silver medal in biathlon at the Paralympic Winter Games this, and backed that performance up with a bronze medal in the middle distance race. Brian McKeever, guided by his brother, Arendz’s coach Robin, were the only other Canadians to win a Para-Biathlon medal when they captured the bronze in 2006.
Arendz will be questionable for the cross-country skiing relay race, which takes centre stage on Saturday in Sochi.
For more information and complete results, please visit paralympic.ca
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