Neuner confident of gold

German biathlete Magdalena Neuner is confident she can secure a gold medal at her maiden Olympic Games in Whistler.

Eurosport

Neuner, who turns 23 on Tuesday, is fully aware of where the main threat to her chances comes from.

"My target is the victory," she told Eurosport-Yahoo! "I know that I can do it: I proved that in Antholz. My wish for gold is not just a crazy dream - it is possible.

"Helena Jonsson is really good at shooting. It's remarkable: she keeps her nerves even in the toughest situations. But on the trail too she is in good shape at the moment.

"Anna-Carin Olofsson-Zidek and Ann Kristin Flatland are also running very well."

Neuner's victory in the World Cup sprint in Antholz showed that she is among the favourites for the podium in Canada.

"That's right," she acknowledged. "I'm feeling superb right now, so I hope to stay healthy. I would love to hold that level for the Games."

Neuner denied that comments attributed to Sweden coach Wolfgang Pichler about her shooting - 'Neuner will never learn to shoot while standing' - were in fact criticism.

"He never said this," she said. "I was a little angry to start with; but the real story was that they asked him if he could teach me shooting while standing and he answered: 'I cannot give an opinion about this because I am not her coach.'

"The tabloids changed the meaning of this statement. But as an athlete you have to handle things like this."

So will Neuner have to improve in that area if she is to triumph in Whistler?

"I don't think so," is the answer. "I know that I'm a very good shooter. I demonstrate this in training again and again - and I also do in competitions.

"Everybody that knows about our profession knows that I have made a leap forward. So I'm optimistic for Vancouver."

Neuner said the trail along which the course will run has everything for a great competition.

"Looking at the run-time I thought the tracks were too short last year," she added. "But as far as I know, they have changed them.

"Fundamentally I liked the grounds very much. The tracks are equipped with many climbs and sections where you have to work hard - actually, everything you need."

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