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19/02/2018 3:33 AM AEDT | Updated 19/02/2018 5:21 AM AEDT

French Biathlete Clinches Gold In One Nail-Biter Of A Finish

Martin Fourcade and Simon Schempp recorded the same time but only one left with the top medal.

When it comes to clinching gold at the Winter Olympics, sometimes every millimeter counts.

French biathlete Martin Fourcade captured the gold medal ― the fourth in his career ― in the men’s 15km mass start competition on Sunday in a dramatic neck-and-neck finish at the games in Peongchang, South Korea. 

The 29-year-old crossed the end line just barely ahead of Simon Schempp of Germany. Both men, in a last-ditch dive, stretched toward the line but it was Fourcade who managed to cross it first, passing Schempp by just a few millimeters, the BBC reported. That’s less than an inch.

Both recorded the same time of 35 minutes, 47.3 seconds. Biathlon combines skiing and shooting, with the men’s 15km event featuring five laps around a 3km course and four shooting rounds 

Bronze went to Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway.

Toby Melville / Reuters
Simon Schempp of Germany, left, and Martin Fourcade of France, right, race to the finish line during Sunday's Men's 15 km Mass Start Final.

The race’s victor took more than a minute to declare, as judges reviewed replays that ultimately showed Fourcade’s left boot crossing the line before Schempp.

Fourcade, who placed second in the event at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, initially thought he lost to Schempp. He was seen angrily hitting one of his ski poles on the ground.

“Four years ago in Sochi I lost by only three centimeters, so I thought the story was repeating again. Tonight it’s incredible,” he later told reporters.

Murad Sezer / Reuters
From left: Silver medalist Simon Schempp of Germany, gold medalist Martin Fourcade of France, and bronze medalist Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway celebrate during Sunday's victory ceremony.

Fourcade’s victory made him France’s most successful Winter Olympian of all time.

Fourcade won gold last week in the men’s 12.5km pursuit and two gold and two silver medals at the 2014 games.

This story has been updated with details on replays of the the race and comments by Fourcade.