Pokljuka (Slovenia) (AFP)
The bet is successful.
The management of the Blues took a risk by aligning the pair Julia Simon-Antonin Guigonnat but this choice has more than paid off since the duo brought back a 2nd gold medal to France at the Biathlon Worlds by winning during the single mixed relay, Thursday in Pokljuka.
Logic would no doubt have wanted Emilien Jacquelin to team up with Julia Simon, the two biathletes having together won the only mixed single relay disputed this season in the World Cup.
But by wanting to preserve the double world champion from the pursuit for the end of the competition, the French staff made a huge gift to Antonin Guigonnat and he did not let this incredible chance pass.
Jacquelin's absence was not finally felt and it was therefore a surprise Simon-Guigonnat tandem, entered only once on the major circuit, who climbed on the top step of the podium, bringing back a 6th podium in the money of the France team.
On paper, however, there was something to be skeptical about, the other major nations having all bet on their best elements, like Norway, which had opted for the two world No. 1 Johannes Boe and Tiril Eckhoff.
But the two French held the shock, especially on the shooting range with only 5 faults in total, to beat the Norwegians and the Swedes (Sebastian Samuelsson-Hanna Oeberg).
In a final suspenseful lap, Simon made the difference by depositing on the track Tiril Eckhoff to offer himself at 24 years the first medal of his career at the World Championships.
In great difficulty in Slovenia, the biathlete from Les Saisies (24 years old), the only Frenchwoman to have won this season in the World Cup (two successes in mass start), made up for it in a masterly way in a finish of which she has the secret.
- "A revenge" -
“I feel like the more people bury me, the more I want to bounce back, she said. It's a revenge. I have a little trouble realizing. It was a great battle. We made our debut in single mixed relay with Anto in the IBU Cup (2nd division, editor's note), it's been a long way since, it's nice. It relieves to say that I have not lost my shooting in a week. I hope it will revive me for the end of these Championships because there are great things to look for. "
"It is still under construction but when it is in good shape on a last lap in the fight, it is untenable, it has the teeth which drag on the ground and it has a formidable character. It puts itself shabby", explained for its part. Frédéric Jean, the coach of the Bleues.
For Guigonnat, this is the 2nd podium at the Worlds, two years after the mass start silver won in Ostersund (Sweden).
Enough to allow him to score precious points while he is in balance with Fabien Claude for the last place in the men's relay, which will defend his world title on Saturday.
"We were surprised at the announcement of this composition but we really had the confidence of the staff, reacted the French. We felt supported."
"It was not a cheap team, we knew their qualities in this kind of format, engaged Stéphane Bouthiaux, the boss of the French biathlon. The line-up was stopped three days ago and they were highly motivated to give all they had ".
Here they are in any case completely relaunched before the final deadlines of the weekend (relay Saturday, mass start Sunday).
"This medal will ease them up and give them ideas for the end of the week," said Frédéric Jean.
kn / bde
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