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OLYMPICS PLUS / His and Hers Silver Medals / First married couple from different countries to win

Midway, Utah - They have matching silver bands on their

left ring fingers, and now they have matching silver medals to go around their

necks.

Raphael Poiree of France and Liv Grete Poiree of Norway became the first

married couple to win Olympic medals while competing for different countries

yesterday.

Raphael Poiree took second in the men's 12.5-kilometer biathlon pursuit,

matching his wife's finish in the women's 15-k individual biathlon event Monday.

"It was so nice," she said. "It really makes mine that much more special."

Liv Grete could have made it even better in the 7.5-k pursuit yesterday,

but she missed two of her final five shots and incurred two penalty loops that

dropped her to fourth place.

She was disappointed with the result, but still happy with the family feat.

It was exactly what they had hoped for after years of training together and

supporting each other's flag.

"It has never been difficult," said Raphael, a French soldier who works as

a military customs officer in Chamonix. "Our countries, Norway and France, make

it easy. They know that if I'm good, it's because of her, and if she's good,

it's because of me."

They met at the 1992 World Junior Championships and began dating four years

later. Their relationship grew out of common interests, and not just biathlon.

They both love movies and outdoor activities.

They were married in May 2000, three months after competing in the World

Championships.

Wearing different team colors has never been a problem. They have a home in

France, but spend much of their time on the road training and competing. He

pushes her to improve her skiing, and she helps him with his shooting.

"We're always together," he said, adding that she is the "essential key to

his success."

That was evident yesterday when he rallied from ninth to finish second -

showing why he got the nicknames the King of Pursuit and the Flying Frenchman.

He hustled into the interview room long before his competitors.

New York Sports