Mark Arendz targets gold in 1st biathlon of Paralympics

Mark Arendz, of Hartsville, P.E.I., will aim for gold when he competes in the first biathlon event of the Sochi Paralympics on Saturday, the 7.5-kilometre (standing category.)

P.E.I. athlete heads into 7.5K ranked 2nd in world

Canadian biathlete Mark Arendz will attempt to become one of Canada’s first medal winners at the Sochi 2014 Paralympics as he looks to challenge in the men’s 7.5km standing biathlon sprint on Saturday.

Arendz, of Hartsville, P.E.I., is the 2013 world champion in the event and is second in the biathlon world rankings.

With a strong 2013 season during which he racked up three top-three finishes at the 2013 World Championship, Arendz has risen up the men’s standing biathlon ranks. He is being leaned on to come away with a medal for the Canadian team.

“We want to go home with a medal or two, that’s for sure … especially Mark Arendz,” Canadian coach KasparWirz said in Sochi on Thursday.

Sochi will be Arendz’s second Paralympics. He competed in Vancouver in 2010, where his best result was a seventh-place finish in the 5K cross-country sprint.

Competition will be stiff with a strong group of contenders looking to capture gold.

The host country will be hungry for medals. Competing in his first Paralympics, AzatKarachurin is Russia’s top contender and will look to capture gold on home soil. Despite failing to reach the podium at the 2013 World Championships, Karachurin sits first in the world rankings ahead of Arendz and Norwegian Nils-Erik Ulset.

The strength of the Russian biathlon team does not stop there, as four-time Paralympic gold medalistKirillMikhaylov looks to add to his already impressive total.

Mikhaylov, who has a total of seven Paralympic medals, took home gold in both biathlon and cross-country skiing in Vancouver 2010.

Then there’s Ulset of Norway. Currently sitting third in the World Cup standings, he brings a strong track record to his fourth games. Ulset won gold in the 12.5km standing biathlon in Vancouver and has eight Paralympic medals to his name. The 30-year-old is another medal favourite.

The men’s 7.5km standing event consists of athletes with a leg, arm or combined leg and arm impairments. It will be streamed live on beginning at 1 a.m. ET.