Biathlon is basically a fairly simple sport. You take a rifle, a pair of cross-country skis, and in the end there’s a good chance a Frenchman will win. In pursuit, it has been so for ten years. After Martin Fourcade, crowned in 2011, 2012, 2016 and 2017, another Habs reigns since 2020 in this discipline. Her name? Emilien Jacquelin, who retained his title of world champion this Sunday in Slovenia. In ten years, the two Blues have trusted six titles, leaving only crumbs to other nations. “If my generation is here, it’s thanks to Raphaël Poirée and Martin Fourcade. They did what biathlon is today, ”thanked them the double world champion.
However, since the retirement at the dawn of the first confinement of the five-time Olympic champion and thirteen-time world champion, one could fear a hollow for French biathlon, or even a chasm. “I wondered before his retirement who would be able to fill the void left by Martin, slips his brother Simon, consultant for the channel L’Equipe. It’s a great surprise to see that France, even without Martin, continues to win. “
“There has been a lot of training for years”
We do not however recover from the departure of a huge champion with a snap of the fingers. Other sports have paid the price, not biathlon so far. Emilien Jacquelin has already taken over and, at the Pokljuka Worlds in Slovenia, France remains the major nation with already five medals in its bag (one in gold, two in silver and two in bronze). Anything but a coincidence: “In biathlon, continues Simon Fourcade, France is not the richest nation. It is not a traditional sport in our country, unlike, for example, in Norway. But for years there has been a lot of training that has been undertaken. Raphaël Poirée then Martin created desires and emulations. “
In this sport, there is also not a single tree to hide the forest. Emilien Jacquelin, the new king of the pursuit, is not alone: Quentin Fillon Maillet finished fourth this Sunday just ahead of Simon Desthieux. And, in the Top 15, we also find Fabien Claude (12th).
Anaïs Chevalier-Bouchet in bronze
Among the ladies, everything is also going well even if the day was not crowned with gold in the pursuit: Anaïs Chevalier-Bouchet did not win better than a bronze medal: “When you are a French biathlete with throughout our history, we have almost an obligation of result, reports Simon Fourcade. So much the better, that’s good, and France is giving itself the means with excellent training work and also leaving time for the champions to hatch. “
And the master, Martin Fourcade himself, what does he say about his successors? “It’s great that things are happening with these Blues! The Norwegians have largely dominated the World Cup so far but, since the start of the Worlds, France has been present. It is beyond expectations. The dynamics are good and it’s so important… ”