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PARALYMPICS

Axelsson takes aim for biathlon challenge

Håkan Axelsson, the only athlete at the Vancouver Paralympics with both a visual impairment and an amputation, is gunning for gold on Wednesday in the 12.5 km biathlon.

A former Swedish national team cross-country skier when he was able-bodied, the 52-year-old fireman had his left leg removed in 2005 after initially injuring it in 1999 in a piste machine accident on a snow course.

The amputation came nine months after Axelsson was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa following years of deteriorating vision.

Deciding he was going to participate in the 2010 Paralympics, Axelsson, a work-out fanatic, undertook a training schedule of more than 50 hours a month to realize his goal.

“I like training and skiing is very fun,” he said. “It was my goal to go to a Paralympics and now I am here. The goal was to get here for 2010. After that, we have to see.”

“Skiing without a guide in the B Class (visually impaired) up to 2009, he had to switch to the B2 Class where a guide skiing behind him is optional. If his sight worsens he could compete in the B1 Class (totally blind).

“It has been more difficult to ski since I have not been able to see so good, and also to have the prosthetic,” said Axelsson. “If I do end up B1, I would have to talk to my family and work to see if I would participate.

“It means a lot. I like skiing. I like physical training. To me it is life.”

Axelsson is also in action on Thursday in the cross-country 10 km Classic, visually impaired, before rounding off his Paralympics with the cross-country Sprint event on Sunday.

The 52-year-old is hoping for an improvement on error strewn performances in his first two events, having failed to finish the 20 km cross-country race and coming in 14th in the 2 x 3 km pursuit.

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PARALYMPICS

Sweden’s Jacobsson shoots way to 17th Paralympic gold

The Paralympic Games' most decorated male athlete, Jonas Jacobsson of Sweden, on Wednesday shot his way to the 17th gold of his career, taking the men's 50m rifle 3 positions SH1 title in London.

Sweden's Jacobsson shoots way to 17th Paralympic gold

The 47-year-old has garnered 30 medals in nine Games since making his debut in 1980 in Arnhem, the Netherlands. In this edition, he has only collected silver in his four scheduled events.

But he refound his gold-winning aim at the Royal Artillery Barracks, firing 10s all the way from his third shot to the end of the competition to successfully defend the title he won four years ago in Beijing.

His 100.9 points was the highest of the session and left him with a total of 1,255.9. Doron Shaziri, of Israel, a silver medalist in Beijing and bronze at Athens in 2004, was second, with Dong Cheo of China in third.

Dong had previously picked up gold in the men’s 10m air rifle standing SH1.

Jacobsson, a wheelchair user and paralysed since birth, celebrated to loud cheers from Swedish fans in the crowd and said he was delighted with yet another win.

“It was amazing. I didn’t really believe that I could do it but it was the power to win. It’s been tough, for the last four months I wasn’t shooting my best but I did it,” he said.

AFP/The Local

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