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WINTER OLYMPICS

Norway’s Winter Olympics superstar Bjørndalen not picked for Pyeongchang

Norway's biathlon star Ole Einar Bjørndalen, who has won the most medals in the history of Winter Olympics, has been omitted from the team for next month's Games in Pyeongchang.

Norway's Winter Olympics superstar Bjørndalen not picked for Pyeongchang
Ole Einar Bjørndalen. Photo: Berit Roald / NTB scanpix

“The results achieved by Ole Einar Bjørndalen during the World Cup… are not good enough. He unfortunately did not meet the criteria” of the selection, the head of the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee, Tore Øvrebø, said.

Bjørndalen, who turns 44 in a few days, has competed in every Winter Olympics since the 1994 event in Lillehammer, Norway, and was hoping to participate in a seventh Olympiad in Pyeongchang next month.

“It sucks that I can't go,” he told television broadcaster TV2, adding that he disagreed with the Norwegian Olympic Committee's decision.

“I think I could have found my form in time for the Games.”

TV2 said Bjørndalen planned to make a decision about his career at the end of the 2018 season.

Holder of a record of 13 Olympic medals (eight gold, four silver and one bronze), Bjørndalen is the best biathlete in history and also counts 95 individual victories in the World Cup and 20 world titles.

He won all four biathlon events — the sprint, the pursuit, the 20-kilometre individual and the 4×7.5km relay — at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

But in South Korea, Norway will be represented by brothers Johannes and Tarjei Bø, Emil Hegle Svendsen, Lars Helge Birkeland, Henrik L'Abee-Lund and Erlend Bjøntegaard.

READ ALSO: Russia beats Norway after tough Olympics 

WINTER OLYMPICS

Norwegian Winter Olympics superstar Marit Bjørgen to retire

Norway's legendary biathlete Marit Bjørgen, who won a record eighth gold medal at the Winter Olympics in February, on Friday said she would call it quits at the age of 38.

Norwegian Winter Olympics superstar Marit Bjørgen to retire
Norwegian biathlon legend Marit Bjørgen. Photo: Berit Roald / NTB scanpix

“I don't feel I have the motivation required to give 100 percent for another season, that's why I'm quitting,” she told public broadcaster NRK.

“I thought it would be easier to say. I'm emotional. It has been an epoch in my life, over 20 years. So it's a bit special to say that this is my last season as an elite athlete,” she said.

Bjørgen underlined her status as an all-time great in the sport at the games in Pyeongchang, South Korea earlier this year, when she grabbed a record-extending 15th Winter Olympics medal, winning the 30km cross country to put Norway top of the final medals table.

The Olympian had earlier become the most successful winter games competitor of all time by finishing third in the team sprint free.

Her bronze with Maiken Caspersen Falla put her on 14 Olympic medals, outstripping fellow Norwegian Ole Einar Bjørndalen, who has 13 in the biathlon.

Bjørgen is also the second most successful woman at either the Summer or Winter Games, trailing only Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina with 18 medals.

She was showered with tributes from fellow athletes, and politicians, after the news broke on Friday.

“She was terribly important to me, she was my idol,” said Therese Johaug, a seven-time world champion and former Olympic gold medallist who was suspended after failing a drug test.

“You have been a source of inspiration and a role model, you made us jump with joy and scream with excitement,” former Norwegian Prime Minister and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wrote on his Twitter account.

Bjørgen claimed her first World Cup victory in Dusseldorf in October 2002 and her first Olympic medal (silver) in Salt Lake City the same year.

She gave birth to her first and only son, Marius, in 2015.

Norway, a country of 5.2 million people, enjoyed a barnstorming Winter Olympics, breaking the United States' 2010 record of 37 medals at a single winter games.

Bjørndalen, the most decorated male Winter Olympian in history, also announced his retirement this week, saying he would quit at the end of the season at the age of 44.

READ ALSO: 'We are not super-human': the secret to Norway's Olympic success