Sport Week: 10 things to know about Para Biathlon

Para Biathlon demands laser focus, physical strength and pinpoint accuracy. Find out more about one of the most fascinating sports at the Winter Paralympics.

1. The word ‘biathlon’ comes from the Greek for ‘two contests’. It too has its origins in Scandinavian history and has evolved from the practice of hunting on skis using a rifle. 

2. Para Biathletes with physical impairments compete in two categories – sitting and standing – while those with vision impairments compete in one category and can be supported by a guide.

Lidziya Hrafeyeva - Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympic Games

Ⓒ Marcus Hartmann

3. In biathlon, athletes with vision impairments use rifles which make a sound to help them aim. Depending on the signal intensity, the noise indicates when the athlete is on target. 

Oksana Shyshkova - Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games

Ⓒ Luc Percival

4. The target size in Para Biathlon for athletes with vision impairments is just 21mm, while for athletes with a physical disability, it is 13mm. Both must be targeted from 10m away.

Nagano 1998 Biathlon

Ⓒ Nagano 1998

5. Biathlon burst onto the Paralympic programme at Innsbruck 1988, for athletes with physical impairments. In 1992, athletes with vision impairments also became eligible. 

6. Since the first Games, a total of 95 biathlon gold medals have been awarded.

male Para Nordic skier Benjamin Daviet

Ⓒ Getty Images

7. Fifteen countries have won gold and 19 at least one medal in biathlon at the Paralympic Winter Games.

PyeongChang 2018 Para biathlon medal ceremony for the men's 15 km vision impaired

Ⓒ Getty Images

8. The events consist of a 2.0 or 2.5 km course skied three or five times in the free technique for a total race distance between 6-12.5 km, depending on if it is the sprint, middle or individual race.

Between the two stages, athletes must hit two targets located at a distance of 10m. Each miss is penalised by an increase in the overall route time.

9. Ukraine’s Vitaliy Lukyanenko and German Verena Bentele are the most decorated male and female biathletes, respectively.

Verena Bentele and her guide Thomas Friedrich of Germany celebrate winning the Women's 3km Pursuit Visually Impaired Biathlon at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Paralympics.

Bentele and her guide Thomas Friedrich celebrate Ⓒ Getty Images

10. At Beijing 2022, Para Biathlon will be staged at the National Biathlon Centre where 18 gold medals will be up for grabs.

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