These are rare moments in sport. The fourth, excluded from the podium, who ignores his personal disappointment to fall into the arms of his caddy and possible successor. The defeated Martin Fourcade, commander of the world biathlon for almost ten years, therefore fell into the arms of the kid Émilien Jacquelin, who won the first victory of his young career on Sunday February 16. And not the least since it is about the pursuit of the world championships, 12.5 km ended with a 20 out of 20 in shooting.
Émilien Jacquelin won on the wire against the Norwegian Johannes Boe. A victory in a sprint, with a spatula, almost with a hose, as the last 500 meters looked like the last hectometers of a cycle race, when the first two are observed, feigning the start on the left, then on the right, before taking, or not, their chance.
A final sprint like cycling
The cycling metaphor is essential for Émilien Jacquelin, whose model is not a skier, but Marco Pantani, the road pirate. “I have no pressure, I love playing with the public and the opponents. When I was young, I did a lot of cycling, I attacked all the time. I never wanted to lose this player temperament that defines me and that sometimes plays tricks on me, he declared the day before the race, paying tribute once again to the Italian champion, who died of an overdose in 2004.
“I loved Marco Pantani, his panache … When I saw him attacking 60 km from the finish without asking questions, I thought it was incredible, says the youngest member of the France team. “Okay, later I learned he was on drugs”, would like to point out the young Grenoblois who set aside time for a professional cycling career, before an ugly mononucleosis came to put an end to his road dreams. He then dabbled in cross-country skiing, then tried his hand at biathlon, despite severe shortcomings in shooting at first.
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Sunday, February 16, a few hours before the pursuit of these Worlds, the young man was also required to an additional training session on the shooting range, a rare exercise in the biathlon community on the morning of a competition. He took it well, since he scored an equally rare 20 of 20, far ahead of his two compatriots Martin Fourcade and especially Quentin Fillon -Maillet.
The latter started in second position on the line after his second place on Saturday 15 in the sprint event, which determines the order of starts. But a catastrophic first shot relegated Fillon -Maillet far from the best, in seventh place in a race that still allows the French to place four men in the top eight.
Three medals for the Blues
This is the third medal for the French team this week in Italy, after the silver from Quentin Fillon Maillet and the bronze from Martin Fourcade, on Saturday 15, in the sprint. The ladies are restrained at the moment, but it is hard to see the boys stopping there. Particularly in the relay (or even mixed relay) event, where blue has often been the right color in recent years.
Émilien Jacquelin therefore joined the other French sacred before him at the World Championships: Martin Fourcade of course (ten wins, since 2011), but also Raphaël Poirée (seven, between 2000 and 2007) and Patrice Bailly-Salins (one, in 1995). It has been three years that the French team has been waiting for an individual world gold medal, since the title of Martin Fourcade in mass start at Östersund in 2017.