February 9, 1998
Dafovska wins first Olympic gold for Bulgaria
Ekaterina Dafovska claimed Bulgaria's first-ever Olympic gold medal in the winter games Monday, winning the women's biathlon 15-kilometer event at the Nagano Winter Games venue in Nozawa Onsen.
Dafovska, 22, turned in a time of 53 minutes, 52.0 seconds in the cross country skiing competition and missed only one shot in the prone position to win with a time of 54:52.0, which includes a one-minute penalty for the errant shot.
Elena Petrova of Ukraine, bronze medalist in 1996 world championships, won the silver medal with time of 55:09.8 including one missed shot and Germany's Ursula Disl, bronze medalist in Lillehammer, took the bronze again with a 55:17.9 and one missed shot.
''I still can't believe that I won the gold medal,'' Dafovska said. ''I wished to hear the Bulgarian national anthem at the Nagano Olympics and it came true so fast.''
The weather, which was snowy and windy at the start of Monday's competition, did not faze the young competitor, who came into the race ranked only 51st on the World Cup circuit.
''My skiing was very good and at the downhill, there was nobody I could not overtake,'' Dafovska said. ''I just depended upon myself and that was my secret.''
Meanwhile, Ryoko Takahashi, who started competing in the biathlon less than two years ago, earned Japan's first-ever sixth place finish in the Olympics in this rugged sport combining cross country skiing and marksmanship.
''I was able to enjoy skiing today and didn't feel any pressure at all,'' said Takahashi, who missed three shots but still managed an aggregate time of 56:17.4. (Kyodo News)
Results of biathlon women's 15 kilometers Monday at the 18th Olympic Winter Games at a biathlon venue in Nozawa Onsen, Nagano Prefecture:
1. Ekaterina Dafovska, Bulgaria 54 minutes, 52.0 seconds (missing targets 1)
2. Elena Petrova, Ukraine 55:09.8 (1)
3. Ursula Disl, Germany 55:17.9 (1)
4. Pavlina Filipova, Bulgaria 55:18.1 (1)
5. Andreja Grasic, Slovenia 56:01.0 (4)
6. Ryoko Takahashi, Japan 56:17.4 (3)
7. Albina Akhatova, Russia 56:21.7 (1)
8. Annette Sikveland, Norway 56:38.7 (3)
9. Yu Shumei, China 56:41.3 (2)
10. Martina Zellner, Germany 56:46.3 (4)
21. Sun Ribo, China 58:19.2 (6)
23. Liodmila Gourieva, Kazakstan 58:42.8 (4)
29. Mami Homma, Japan 59:59.3 (4)
37. Hiromi Seino, Japan 1:01:21.9 (7)
54. Inna Sheshkil, Kazakstan 1:03:27.7 (7)
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Copyright 1998 The Shinano Mainichi Shimbun