John – Sweden’s biggest american fan

Among all visitors during the IBU World Championship Biathlon 2019, John Reale is one of those who have travelled furthest to get to Östersund. He is from New Jersey, USA, and have attended all competition days of the WCH.

Before the women’s relay, John is at the arena when it opens four hours before start. He’s walking fast towards Granrisbacken, one of the track areas, which is the only place he hasn’t been yet. The goal is to get as close to track as possible to get good pictures. Especially of Hanna Öberg.
– I followed the Olympics on TV last year and watched Hanna Öberg winning the individual start and then securing the silver medal for the Swedish women’s relay team.

John barely knew anything about biathlon before the Olympics and the interest started with Hanna’s successes. There and then he decided to come to Östersund and experience the World Championships live, at the home arena of Hanna.
– I booked tickets, flights and accommodation exactly one year ago. And this is the first time I watch biathlon live. So my history doesn’t go that far back in time.

He’s waving an american flag on the stands and is impressed by the US results so far. But he is also cheering for Sweden and Hanna’s gold medal in the individual start is undoubtedly the highlight of the event.
– Hanna’s victory was amazing; clean shooting, good skiing and a crazy crowd. But I hope to see even more Swedish medals. I hope and believe in Mona in the women’s mass start!

During his visit, John is staying in Mordviken which he thinks is a quiet and peaceful area. He also finds the surrounding nature astonishingly beautiful.
– I wasn’t sure what to expect but I’m thrilled and excited to be here!

Next year’s Championships are held i Antholz, Italy, and John is thinking about going there too. Anyhow, he will definitely return to Östersund in the future:
– I have to come back here! I know this place now, so of course I want to come back. Hopefully I’ll bring my kids here next time I come!

Photo: Andreas Lindgren