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Sunday, 17 February, 2002, 10:15 GMT

British biathlete honoured

BBC Sport Online's Anna Thompson reports from the GB camp on a surprise ceremony for veteran biathlete Mike Dixon.

Modest Mike Dixon thought he was going to Soldier Hollow, near Salt Lake City, for an interview.

So he was shocked when he turned up to the sounds of bagpipes.

Dixon, who was competing in his sixth Winter Olympics - a British record - was being honoured by the International Biathlon community at the end of Saturday's 12.5km pursuit race.

It was a hush-hush ceremony that certainly took the 39-year-old by surprise.

He was not taking part in the race but was presented with a framed painting of Soldier Hollow and honoured with bagpipe entertainment, provided by the Ben Lomund Pipe Corps.

Dixon, originally from Fort William in Scotland, is only the seventh athlete to compete in six Winter Games.

But Salt Lake 2002 has been a struggle.

He has finished near the bottom of the two events he has competed in and has complained of dizziness.

Dixon's best Olympic result was 12th in the 20km in Albertville in 1992.

Chad Salmela, Soldier Hollow biathlon co-ordinator, said the award was "in commemoration of the Olympic spirit".

He said: "Mike was not expecting it at all. He was flattered. I think he really liked it."

Simon Clegg, chef de mission of Team GB added: "It is wonderful that Mike's achievements are being recognised by the International Biathlon Union. It has been a Herculean effort."

Dixon has declared he will not be competing in any more Winter Olympics.

But he has admitted he fancied a crack at shooting in the 2004 summer Games in Athens.

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