sport

Historic gold for Kuzmina

Anastasiya Kuzmina recorded history as she stormed to a second successive biathlon sprint Olympic gold - all in the country of her birth.

The 29-year-old, who had not won a world event since her success in the 7.5km sprint in Vancouver four years ago, finished 19.9 seconds clear of the rest of the field as she became the first woman to win two Olympic gold medals in a single individual event in biathlon.

Despite competing for Slovakia, Kuzmina - whose brother Anton Shipulin represents Russia in the men's event - stressed that she feels Russian at heart, which made her victory at the Laura Cross Country Centre in Sochi all the more sweeter.

"This victory in my homeland is a big thing. I am Russian after all, although I am a Slovakian passport holder, this is my home," she said.

The day before her race, she had seen her brother finish 0.7 secs off a bronze medal in the men's sprint.

Kuzmina added: "There are mixed feelings involved. I felt for Anton yesterday. I didn't see the whole race but I was crossing my fingers for him. When I approached the starting line today, I told myself, if it is my day, I will dedicate my medal to him.

"I hope that it inspires him for tomorrow (for the men's pursuit). He can win," she said.

Kuzmina's time of 21 minutes 6.8secs was too good for the rest, with Russia's Olga Vilukhina and Ukraine's Vita Semerenko earning silver and bronze respectively.

And the 2010 winner was left thrilled with her success.

Kuzmina said: "Today was just an amazing day for me. Vancouver was my first gold medal and there were a lot of new emotions involved. Those ones here are my second Olympics and I can say, it was a long way to get here."

The sprint serves as a qualifying event for the women's pursuit, with the top 60 finishers taking part, and Kuzmina will chase the double success which eluded her in Canada, when she finished in second behind the now retired Magdalena Neuner.

There was disappointment for Great Britain's Amanda Lightfoot, who saw her hopes of qualifying for the pursuit dashed by finishing down in 75.

Lightfoot, from South Shields, admitted she was "absolutely gutted" following her performance, which saw her miss three shots and finish over three and a half minutes off the pace.

Vilukhina's silver made her the first Russian to win a medal in the sprint since Galina Koukleva back in 1998, and it earned her coach a new car.

"He was promised a car if I won (a medal). Now he's going to get it and he can choose whatever car he likes," said Vilukhina.

"I feel my emotions burst but I need to control them because another race is coming up and I need to feel strong and to get myself together."

Reigning women's sprint world champion Olena Pidhrushna from Ukraine could only manage 26th, while pre-Games favourites Darya Domracheva (Belarus) and Tora Berger (Norway) finished back in ninth and 10th respectively.