Olympic Games 2022: at the end of an incredible stint, Quentin Fillon-Maillet and the Blues in silver

The French relay won the 2and place behind a Norwegian formation which came back from nowhere, and in front of a Russian team which cracked in an incredible way.

Our special correspondent in China

Quentin Fillon-Maillet is human, after all. This Tuesday, the Frenchman could have guided France to a new title during the men’s relay at the Beijing Games. But three shots, including two on the last standing, deprived him of a new feat, leaving it to the Norwegians, authors of an incredible comeback after being more than a minute late.

The prize for the worst crack, however, goes to the Russian Eduard Latypov, who arrived on the last firing point with more than 50 seconds in advance and already almost a gold medal around his neck. Before falling apart completely, missing five targets and leaving twice on the penalty ring to, in the end, save a bronze medal looking like Berezina. An incredible scenario, which the French could therefore have taken advantage of without his two faults. But in the end, he still won the money with his partners, his 5and personal medal in as many races in Zhangjiakou. Only one more during the mass start on Friday and the box will be full.

First hexagonal torchbearer, Fabien Claude disputed, at 27, his first Olympic relay. With all that that implies in terms of pressure because it was up to him to start his team well. Solid in the individual (9and), before being more irregular during the sprint (21and) and pursuit (16and), the Frenchman was unfortunately overtaken by the stress on the first firing point, where he missed two targets and therefore had to resort to two pickaxes pushing him back almost 30 seconds from the leading pack.

But, on skis, he quickly managed to make up all or part of his delay. Before reversing the trend beautifully with a perfect standing shot, placing him just behind the Russian Saïd Khalili. And 40 seconds ahead of the Norwegian Sturla Holm Laegreid, author of four faults and, therefore, a penalty lap. Fabien Claude had thus fulfilled his objective: to pass the baton to Émilien Jacquelin in a good position (3and 7 seconds from Russia).

Very inconsistent since the start of the Games, the second French torchbearer immediately set off in pursuit of Russian Alexander Loginov, a client. So much so that Émilien Jacquelin was unable to catch him on skis, nor on the first prone shot where he had to draw once, against none for the world sprint champion in 2020. The gap even grew, to reach the half minute.

The alert threshold was reached and like Fabien Claude previously, the Frenchman would take advantage of the standing shot to close the gap, Loginov drawing twice while he managed a welcome 5 from 5. The only problem was that Jacquelin was not having a great day on skis and the Russian took the opportunity to take to their heels and pass the baton to Maxim Tsvetkov with a 36-second margin.

A pretty mattress that it was up to Simon Desthieux to blow up. Alas, instead, the situation became more complicated after a prone shot on which Tsvetkov committed a clear round, while the Frenchman struggled to clear the final target, having to try three times. To be 48 seconds behind, even leaving Belarus and Germany to come back a little in the race, while Johannes Boe’s Norway remained more than a minute behind. Not for long though as the prone shot turned out to be a turning point. For the title, with a very applied Tsvetkov who missed nothing and flew in the lead. But also in the fight for the podium with a Boe coming back like a plane on a Desthieux guilty of a pickaxe. And in sliding, the Frenchman was hardly reassuring, launching Quentin Fillon Maillet towards a totally crazy end of the race with only two seconds ahead of his pursuers, and so far from a Latypov who seemed untouchable…

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Olympic Games 2022: at the end of an incredible stint, Quentin Fillon-Maillet and the Blues in silver