The woman who makes men run a marathon

One of the heroines of the IBU World Championships Biathlon 2021 in Pokljuka is the French competitor Anais Chevalier-Bouchet, who won medals in sprint and pursuit races.

The 28-year-old French national team member is currently, besides Tiril Eckhoff, the first name of women’s part of the IBU World Championships Biathlon in Pokljuka. She impressed the French with a silver medal in sprint and a bronze medal in pursuit, less than a year and a half after giving a birth. Following the great results in the first part of the Championships, the French coach Frederic Jean ran a 42-kilometer long marathon around Lake Bled because of it and thus fulfilled the internal bet.

Currently the seventh biathlete in the overall World Cup standings, has made a memorable comeback after a little over a year-long break. In October 2019, Anais celebrated the birth of her daughter Emie.

Anais was already excellent at the World Cup in Kontiolahti at the beginning of last December, where she won second place in the sprint, and at the end of January she took third place in the individual race in Anterselva. She has already arrived in Pokljuka with a good take and full of optimism. “I’m confident. The races have shown me that I can race in front, my ski times are very good. In shooting, I can trust myself. These Worlds remain an objective because I have come a long way. I don’t want to hide my ambitions. I do not want to quantify or announce a concrete goal or medals. But obviously I am not going for nothing. I did not come back and I did not do all this work to take places of honour,” she told Ski Nordique before the Championships.

Already the first women’s race showed that optimism was in place and that she is in excellent shape at Rudno polje. After giving birth, she noticed some changes, as she told La Nouvelle Republique: “I’m in a different state of mind and I approach things differently. Between December and January, I relearned things. I needed a little time to adapt to find the automatisms, the sequence of races. In January, I had the impression of having succeeded in putting things in place and of having made a real job as a biathlete.”

However, the life of a top athlete is not easy, as she is often absent from home, daughter, family. “I manage, I do my best. When the results are here, it’s easier for me, morale is good and I let myself be less melancholic. When it works, it’s fine. But there are longer days than others. I expected worse. When I have a bad race, the distance adds even more anger and frustration. That’s the hardest thing to deal with. But if I didn’t have the passion, I wouldn’t be here anymore. I like to train, to compete,” she admitted.

She returned even stronger after giving birth. “I make a lot less lactic acid than before, for example. It’s pretty impressive in terms of feel. I also improved my power-to-weight ratio. In the uphill parts, I feel that I am performing better than before. I lost weight and gained muscle. Physiologically, something has happened in my body, it’s cool, I’m enjoying it but I can’t explain it anymore,” she told La Dauphine.