OSLO, Norway (AP) Olympic great Ole Einar Bjoerndalen has put retirement plans on hold to compete in biathlon for two more years, and will soon be a father.
By putting his focus on family and career with the 2018 Pyeongchang Games in sight, the most decorated athlete in Winter Olympic history has given up his membership of the IOC.
The International Olympic Committee said Tuesday that it accepted Bjoerndalen's decision to resign just two years into an eight-year term.
The 42-year-old Bjoerndalen, who has eight Olympic golds and 13 medals overall, said he and biathlete Darya Domracheva of Belarus will have a child in October.
''We have now come so far that we are a couple,'' said Bjoerndalen, adding he doesn't know whether they will have a boy or a girl.
Domracheva, who is 29 and a three-time Olympic champion, wrote on her website that she plans to resume competing by next January.
''I'm keeping up moderate training under the observation of specialists,'' said Domracheva, who missed all of last season with mononucleosis.
Bjoerndalen had been expected to retire after taking part in the world championships in Oslo last month, where he won a gold and three other medals.
The IOC had previously excused him from Olympic duties to prepare for the event in his home country.
Bjoerndalen had taken little part in IOC business since being elected by fellow athletes at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. There, at his sixth Winter Games, he won titles in sprint and mixed relay.
''It was the correct decision since his sporting commitments did not allow him to carry out his function as IOC member in the way he wanted to,'' IOC president Thomas Bach said in a statement.