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Posted: Feb 20, 1:43p ET | Updated: Feb 20, 1:46p ET

Bjoerndalen gearing up for gold

Wants to catch Daehlie's mark, no matter the time

WHISTLER (AFP) -- Norway's Ole Einar Bjørndalen will have one focus in Sunday's Olympic Games 15km biathlon mass start: Gold.

The 36-year-old from Drammen already has ten Olympic medals to date in his collection, stretching back to a 10km sprint gold at the 1998 Nagano Games.

He added his other golds with a quadruple triumph in the 10km sprint, the 12.5 km, the 20km and the 4x7.5km relay in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

Add four silvers -- including one in the 20km at this year's Games behind compatriot Emil Hegle Svendsen -- and one bronze as well as 14 world titles and the super veteran with the biggest medal haul in the sport is clearly the man with the pedigree to carry off the top honor.

He expects to perform the feat Sunday although he has a contingency plan should he miss out on gold, which would put a kink in his plan to overhaul retired Norwegian legend Bjorn Daehlie, who captured eight Olympic crowns.

"I'll go to Sochi (in 2014) -- I want to catch up with Daehlie, even if that takes a few years" he said.

After a dismal 17th place in the 10km and then a more encouraging seventh in the 12.5km pursuit Bjoerndalen showed with his ensuing 20km silver that class is permanent, even if he is in the twilight of his career.

Svendsen, who is 12 years younger, says Bjoerndalen is the man who switched him on to the sport.

"I don't think I would be here if it weren't for Bjoerndalen," Svendsen said after his 20km win that followed on from a silver in the 10km sprint.

The field for the men's 15km mass start comprises the top 30 in the world rankings, with the champions from the sprint, pursuit and individual obtaining direct qualification berths.

All competitors set off at the same time and must master four shooting sessions -- two prone, two standing. Each missed target means an additional 150-metre penalty loop.

The mass start first appeared at the Games at Turin just four years ago, when Germany's Michael Greis came in ahead of Poland's Tomasz Sikora and Bjoerndalen.

All three will line up again at Whistler.

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