Germany's double gold medallist biathlete Magdalena Neuner will not start Tuesday's Olympic biathlon relay. Neuner has taken herself out of the running for a third gold medal and said "I am finished with the Olympic Games."
AFP - Germany's biathlon pin-up Magdalena Neuner has taken herself out of the running for a third gold medal and given up her place for Tuesday's Olympic 4x6km biathlon relay.
The 23-year-old claimed her second gold of the Games when she won the 12.5km mass start on Sunday but announced she would pull out of the team relay to give others a chance to medal.
"That was my last run," she said, having also won silver in the sprint and gold in the pursuit.
"I am finished with the Olympic Games.
"It was my decision. But I think that the other girls are all on form and want to secure a medal," she added after admitting being jaded by the pressure of .
German team attache Stefan Sschwarzberg said she had achieved more than she thought impossible.
"She has reached everything, and maybe even a bit more, than she ever dreamt of at these Olympic Games. So she wanted to give her teammates a chance to win their own medals," he said.
In Neuner's absence, Germany have plenty of strength in depth to choose from in mass start bronze medallist Simone Hauswald, triple Olympic gold medallist Kati Wilhelm and double gold-medallist from Salt Lake City, Andrea Henkel.
Neuner's place in the German quartet will most likely to go to Martina Beck, formerly Glagow, who won three silver medals in Turin four years ago.
Even without Neuner, Germany, who won the relay silver in Turin behind the Russian quartet four years ago, are more than capable of winning gold.
In the relay, each member of a four-person team skis three legs and stops twice at the shooting range with each miss meaning a 150-metre penalty lap.
Russia's Olga Zaitseva who won a silver in the 12.5km mass start said she has been surprised by the lack of form of the world's best biathletes here including Sweden's Helena Jonsson, who has been replaced by Neuner as the world leader.
"I am not going to predict anything about the relay, anything can happen - the field is wide open," said the Russian.
"These game are unpredictable, the Russian team will contuinue to work hard and perhaps do better next time.
"It was surprising to see none of the athletes who promised before these Games have delivered much, including the Russians and Scandinavians, except Magdalena, anything can happen here as we have seen seen."
Date created : 2010-02-22