February 25, 2018 / 9:53 AM / 4 months ago

Cross-country skiing: Bjoergen bows out with final gold

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Marit Bjoergen got the individual gold she craved to bow out of her Olympic career as the most successful athlete in the history of the Winter Games with 15 medals, eight of them gold.

Cross-Country Skiing - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Women's 30km Mass Start Classic - Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Centre - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 25, 2018 - Gold medallist Marit Bjoergen of Norway reacts after winning. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Bjoergen destroyed the field, increasing her lead over silver medalist Krista Paramakoski of Finland at every split time until she crossed the finish line in her last Olympic race.

“It’s incredible, to be finishing my last Olympics like this is amazing. I came here hoping for one individual gold medal and I knew it was possible in the 30k... it was an amazing race for me,” she told reporters.

Bjoergen’s glittering Olympic career started in Salt Lake City where she won her first medal, a silver, in the 4x5km relay and she has won 14 since, but the 37-year-old is adamant that she won’t be back for Beijing in 2022.

“This was my last, and it couldn’t be better to finish like this” she said. “I will ski the rest of the season and see what I will do next year.”

Having won a gold medal in the 4x5km relay and overtaken compatriot Ole Einar Bjoerndalen as the most successful athlete in Winter Games history, Bjoergen was keen to win one last gold.

“It has been hard to understand, thinking that I make history, but today it was more important for me to do a good race. I came to this Olympics to take one individual gold medal, and today I had the chance,” she explained.

“It’s incredible to finish my Olympic career like this, there were lots of feelings the last hundred meters, and I’m really happy, it’s hard to understand what I have done, from my first Olympics in Salt Lake until now, it’s been incredible.”

Cross-Country Skiing - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Women's 30km Mass Start Classic - Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Centre - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 25, 2018 - Gold medallist Marit Bjoergen of Norway reacts after winning the race. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Reporting by Philip O'Connor; editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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