Thursday, May 26

Johaug in tears over deceased supporter: – Would go for him

ZHANGJIAKOU / OSLO (VG) Therese Johaug (33) ensured a Norwegian dream start in the Olympics when she crushed the competitors during the Olympics’ first medal practice.

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12 years after she was part of the Norwegian relay team that won Olympic gold in 2010, Therese Johaug could on Saturday cheer for her second Olympic gold – and the first individual Olympic gold in her career.

After finishing 15 kilometers with a change of skis, Johaug shed tears, and to VG she opened up about how much Torbjørn Johannson has meant to her. Johannson died earlier this week.

– He has meant an incredible amount. He has supported me for 15 years, especially during the years I was banned. When he stood there with his back straight and supported me through the tough years. I would go for him today. As much as I went for myself, says Johaug to VG.

Torbjørn Johannson was among the first to go out and support her in public. He had absolutely no plans to terminate the sponsorship contract.

He was part of one of Norway’s richest families through Norgesgruppen, which we know better as Kiwi, Spar, Meny and Joker. And Evergood and Ali. According to Kapital, the family is well worth more than NOK 50 billion.

NEAR SUPPORTER: Therese Johaug and Torbjørn Johannson (right) had a close relationship.

The first individual Olympic gold also had great significance for Johaug himself.

– This means an insane amount. This is what I have been training for for many, many years. It’s been a dream since I was a little girl. Today I could cross the finish lines and know that I am an Olympic champion. It’s big, says Johaug.

– I would not have managed this without all the supporters around me. I have given high priority to those around me in recent years to achieve this goal. I’ve been selfish. Then this is extra large, says Johaug.

Therese Johaug took command from the start and into the ski change, Johaug came a few seconds ahead of the Finnish duo Kerttu Niskanen and Krista Pärmäkoski and the Swedish Frida Karlsson.

Johaug went hard on the skating part, and the small hatch she had when changing skis grew bigger and bigger. With five kilometers left, she had 26 seconds down to Karlsson, and Johaug had full control of the victory in the last part of the race.

Natalja Neprjajeva was second, 30.2 seconds behind Johaug. Teresa Stadlober went in for bronze, while the Swedish hope Frida Karlsson finished in fifth place.

The margin of victory is by far the largest at the exercise in the Olympics. Previously, Marit Bjørgen’s victory in 2010, 8.9 seconds ahead of Anna Haag, was the victory by the largest margin.

After Johaug was not allowed to join Olympics in Pyeongchang in 2018 due to the doping verdict she served, Johaug has had this winter’s Olympics as a major motivating factor for the investment – what is scheduled to be her last Olympics.

Joint start with ski change was made in the championship for the first time in the WC 2003. Then it was Kristina Smigun who took the gold, and the first years there was no great Norwegian success in the exercise. The first gold came on the sixth attempt, when Marit Bjørgen took Olympic gold in the distance in 2010.

Since then, it has also been a great success for the Norwegian women in the exercise. Bjørgen followed up with World Cup gold in 2011, 2013 and 2017, as well as Olympic gold in 2014. Therese Johaug won the exercise during the World Cup in 2015, 2019 and 2021, and the only non-Norwegian victory in the last 12 years was Charlotte Kalla who took during the 2018 Olympics.

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The Swedish favorite then won in front of Bjørgen, and Kalla was again on the Swedish team in Saturday’s race.

Bjørgen was not there, but Therese Johaug was in charge the Norwegian team with “only” three athletes after the corona infection of Heidi Weng and Anne Kjersti Kalvå.

The supposedly strongest challengers were the Swedish duo Frida Karlsson and Ebba Andersson and the Russian Natalja Neprjajeva, and it soon became clear that Johaug was the only Norwegian athlete who wanted to take part in the close fight. After blasting the field in the classic part, Johaug seriously jerked off after the ski change and went in for a superb Olympic gold.

According to the plan, Johaug will also run 10 kilometers, 30 kilometers and the relay in the Olympics.

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