As a junior Klas Lestander started his career as a cross-country skier. A carpenter by trade, a workplace accident on a construction site forced him to quit, but he also grew up hunting and became a proficient marksman. Klas Lestander opted out of the 1959 World Championships in Sweden and focused rather on the Pre-Olympics in order to prepare well for the Olympics. It paid off in 1960 at Squaw Valley when he won gold in the first Olympic biathlon competition. In his gold medal race, Lestander only had the 15th best running time of the 30 participants, but thanks to flawless shooting he had the best corrected time, and this was the first time in an international championship that someone hit all 20 targets. The following year at the World Championships in Umeå, he took an unofficial bronze as a member of the Swedish relay team but was only ninth in the individual race, and he retired from competition after the 1961 season. Lestander never won a Swedish Championship.
Klas Lestander lived throughout his life in his native Arjeplog, where a square was named after him. He is a cousin of the forest worker and Left Party Member of Parliament Paul Lestander. Klas Lestander’s son, artist Dan Lestander, has also won a gold medal at the Olympics in the snow sculpture contest at the Olympic Arts Festival in Albertville, France in 1992.
Athlete Olympic Results Content
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