SOCHI, Russia, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Norway's Ole Einar Bjorndalen finally won his record 13th Winter Olympics medal Wednesday and it turned out to be a gold one in the biathlon mixed relay.
Bjorndalen came to these Olympics needing two medals to surpass fellow-Norwegian Bjorn Daehlie as the all-time record medal winner in the Winter Games and he started quickly with a victory in the biathlon sprint.
But struggles on the shooting range over his next three events led to finishes of fourth, 34th and 22nd places. With only the mixed relay on Wednesday and the men's relay on Saturday left for Bjorndalen, he knew he would have to rely on others to help him win his medal.
First of all, however, Bjorndalen needed to improve his own shooting and when he entered the range on Wednesday he hit all five of his targets.
In the inaugural mixed biathlon relay held at the Olympics, Bjorndalen joined Tora Burger, Tiril Eckhoff and Emil Hagle Svendsen on the winning team. The Czech Republic finished second and Italy was third.
The two women on each team skied a 6-kilometer loop and the men traveled 7.5 kilometers. All four team members took five shots.
After Burger had a clean shooting effort, Eckhoff missed two targets. The 40-year-old Bjorndalen was thus behind when he began his leg, but his strong skiing skills and his perfect shooting put Norway in front by 43.1 seconds when Svendsen headed out on the final leg.
Svendsen, who almost let a gold medal get away in the mass start biathlon race on Tuesday when he began celebrating prior to the finish line, made no mistakes.
The final margin of victory was 32.6 seconds.
Although the Norwegians missed two targets overall, they had by far the best shooting day. The Czechs missed seven targets and Italy missed six.
Eight of Bjorndalen's 13 medals have been gold and five of those eight have been in individual events. His first Olympics were the 1998 Games in Nogano. Daehlie competed in Albertville, Lillehammer and Nogano -- also winning eight gold medals in his overall collection of 12. Six of his gold medals came in individual competitions.