Neuner wins women's 12.5K mass start at Olympics 

Magdalena Neuner of Germany overcame two missed shots to win the women's 12.5-kilometer mass start biathlon race Sunday for her second gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics.

Neuner pulled away from her rivals after the final shooting and had time to start celebrating as she crossed a short bridge leading into the stadium, pumping her fist to salute the German fans. She finished in 35 minutes, 19.6 seconds and became just the second woman to win two individual biathlon golds at the same Olympics, matching Canadian standout Myriam Bedard's accomplishment from 1994.

"I knew I could win a medal, but now I have three," said Neuner, who also won the 10K pursuit on Tuesday and took silver in the 7.5K sprint in her first Olympics. "That's incredible."

Olga Zaitseva of Russia took the silver medal after finishing 5.5 seconds behind. Simone Hauswald of Germany won bronze, 7.3 seconds back.

Neuner trailed by as much as 29 seconds after missing two targets in the first three shootings. But she pushed the pace and was only 7 seconds behind Zaitseva after a clean shoot in the final standing position.

"Then I saw only two athletes in front of me, and I thought 'OK, I'm on the podium,'" Neuner said. "Then I saw, OK, they're not that far in front of me. ... So I turned on the turbo."

She caught up with her Russian rival shortly afterward and then pulled away in the last major uphill climb, where neither Zaitseva nor Hauswald could match her speed.

"I saw that Magdalena was way up there, and I couldn't keep up," Zaitseva said.

Zaitseva was part of the Russian relay team that won gold in Turin four years ago, but this was her first individual Olympic medal.

"It is a hard-won medal, and they're not easy to get," Zaitseva said. "So I'm very glad and proud that I have a medal I can call my own."

Hauswald led going into the third shooting but missed two targets to fall nearly 30 seconds behind another Russian, Olga Medvedtseva, who shot cleanly to take a narrow lead.

Medvedtseva stayed in front going into the final shooting, where she again hit all targets, but spent so much time on the range that she left in fourth place, where she finished.

Hauswald didn't seem to rue her mistakes in the third shooting, which cost her the gold.

"I'm overwhelmed," she said. "I worked hard all those days and all the years, and now I'm very thankful to get a medal. When I woke up this morning I had a really good feeling, and I thought 'OK, this is your day.' And I just believed in myself and had a really good race."

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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