Canada’s Mark Arendz won Paralympic silver on Saturday in the men’s 7.5 km standing biathlon in Sochi.
The 23-year-old from Hartsville, P.E.I., finished just seven tenths of a second behind hometown favourite Vladislav Lekomtcev of Russia, who won in a time of 19 minutes, 13.7 seconds.
"It's an incredible day,” he said after the race. "It was tough conditions, definitely not the fastest out there."
Arendz entered the competition as the defending world champion in the event. Another Russian, Azat Karachurin, took bronze. Arendz will have a few more chances to crack the podium in Sochi, as he’s also competing in the 12.5 km and 15 km events later in the Games, along with the Nordic relay.
"[It’s] more of the same [for the next events], perfect or try to be perfect on the range and really smart race plans throughout,” he said. “If I execute that well, we'll see where it ends up."
Canadian cross-country star Brian McKeever pulled out of his race on Saturday, the men’s 7.5 km biathlon in the visually impaired category. The 34-year-old from Canmore, Alta., has been battling a virus prior to the Games.
Ukrainian Vitaliy Lukyanenko ended up winning the event in a time of 20:18.8, with Russia’s Nikolay Polukhin finishing in the silver medal position 11 seconds back. Vasili Shaptsiaboi of Belarus won bronze.
Multiple Russians on the podium was a recurring theme at the Laura Cross-country Ski & Biathlon Center on the first day of competition in Sochi. Russia won gold in three of the six biathlon events on Day 1 of the Games, and took seven medals overall.
Two more Russians finished first and second in the women’s 6 km standing classification earlier in the day. Alena Kaufman won gold in a time of 18:27.2, 30 seconds ahead of teammate Anna Milenina. Iuliia Batenkova of Ukraine took bronze. Caroline Bisson of Ottawa was 14th.
Another pair of Russians stood 1-2 in the women’s 6 km visually-impaired category. Mikhalina Lysova finished 28 seconds ahead of teammate Iuliia Budaleeva for gold. Ukrainian Oksana Shyshkova won bronze. Margarita Gorbounova of Ottawa finished in seventh.
Germany’s Andrea Eskau won the women’s 6 km sitting biathlon in 19:12.4. Svetlana Konovalova of Russia finished in the silver medal position, 18.7 seconds behind. Ukraine’s Olena Iurkovska took bronze.
Roman Petushkov won the host country’s first gold of the Paralympics in the men’s 7.5 km sitting biathlon, finishing in 21:03.7, eight seconds ahead of Maksym Yarovyi of the Ukraine. Kozo Kubo of Japan won bronze.
(With files from the Paralympic News Service)