Marte Olbu Roiseland declares her retirement from competitive sport
Marte Olsbu-Roiseland hasn't had to prove anything to anyone for a long time. At most, she had to prove it to herself. Perhaps that was the reason why the 32-year-old Norwegian simply didn't want to let go of the biathlon after the Beijing Olympics. Now, however, it's enough. Before the World Cup final in Oslo, Olsbu-Roiseland announced her retirement from active sports.
It is the end of an extraordinary career in every respect. Marte Olsbu came to sport because she was fighting asthma and wanted to improve her lung capacity through physical activity. Initially, the girl from Froland in the southern Norwegian province of Agder played handball, later switched to biathlon and in 2006 to a skiing high school. She didn't stand out for her special achievements, but, according to her coach at the time, Roger Gruppen, she did stand out for her conscientious planning and captivating structuredness, coupled with her enormous will to improve herself. And she met and fell in love with a certain Sverre Roiseland at high school. There were setbacks on her way to the top; an Achilles tendon injury slowed her down, as did an illness with Pfeiffer's glandular fever.
Marte like a diesel - slow start, but when it's running....
The ascent to the World Cup was also rather slow. While Tora Berger, the top star of the Norwegian women, determined the performance level, athletes of Olsbu's age were able to establish themselves faster, Tiril Eckhoff for example. The turning point was the 2016 World Championships, when Olsbu was placed as the final skater for the first time in her career in the relay race in front of her home crowd in Oslo, took over first and led the quartet to the finish as the winning relay team. Now the Norwegian began to establish herself among the world's best, slowly and gradually admittedly, as one was used to from her, but continuously. Above all, the improvement of her shooting performance was the key to success. In Pyeongchang, she won two silver medals at the Olympic Games. And: In the summer of 2018, they got married, Marte Olsbu became Marte Olsbu-Roiseland. Her husband Sverre had meanwhile embarked on a coaching career.
The following season brought the final breakthrough to the top of the world. There were World Cup victories and at the World Championships in Östersund no individual medals, but 3x gold in the team competitions. Olsbu-Roiseland, the planning world champion, realized that for the really big victories she had to dose the training and competition program also in the individual. And she focused the following season on that. The big triumph followed at the World Championships in Antholz in 2020. Five gold medals, plus two bronze plaques. It didn't matter that she didn't care much about the World Cup this winter.
Performance dip and comeback in the Olympic winter
What followed was the Corona pandemic. This led to mental problems for the now extremely popular Norwegian. On the one hand, the audience at competitions was missing, on the other hand she acted - as she later admitted herself - too anxiously, too hesitantly. Thus, the 2020/21 season was rather mixed. At the World Championships on the Slovenian Pokljuka, however, it was still enough for two more gold medals in the mixed relay and in the relay. Once again it was her husband Sverre who showed Marte the way out of this performance hole. Because in the winter of 2021/22, the now experienced biathlete dominated both the World Cup and the Olympic Games in Beijing, where she collected five medals, including gold in the sprint, pursuit and mixed relay. After Antholz 2020, the second very big career highlight.
New stimuli, setbacks and the last hurrah
Whether Marte Olsbu-Roiseland thought about quitting after Beijing, she keeps to herself until today. But perhaps she saw a new attraction in her husband's move to Germany, where Sverre took over as discipline coach for the DSV women. In any case, Olsbu-Roiseland trained together with the German women in Ruhpolding in preparation for the post-Olympic season. At least temporarily. In March, the Norwegian had contracted the corona virus and subsequently complained repeatedly of various ailments. But that was not enough, in the fall she also caught shingles. The first trimester of the season thus fell flat for her and before her entry into the World Cup in January 2023, she explained that never before had a hard training session felt so good because she felt that her body was functioning again. Of course, the World Cup was not an issue for her, but the World Cup in Oberhof was, and Marte Olsbu- Roiseland ended it again with three medals, two gold and bronze in the pursuit race. These were the titles number 12 and 13 and with the four bronze medals in total, Olsbu-Roiseland now has 17 World Cup podium places - a record. 34 World Cup victories, 15 of them as a soloist, and seven Olympic medals round off her sporting CV. It is the CV of a popular figure who never tended to be a glamour girl, who never appeared as a loudspeaker, but who won the hearts of the fans through performance and hard work. It was not for nothing that the French sports daily L'Equipe voted her World Sportswoman of the Year in 2020, the trade media of "Forum Nordicum" awarded her the title of "Biathlon Queen" after Beijing, and she has also already been awarded the legendary Holmenkollen medal. It is quite possible that after her retirement the hail of awards will really begin.
Fotos: K.Voigt Fotografie