Biathlon, the broken trace of Raphaël Poirée

On March 11, 2007, he had been left with his fist raised, angry as always, forced to lower him during this last race, defeated by half a spatula by the Norwegian king Ole Einar Björndalen. Following his sparkling career (8 world titles, 4 big crystal globes, 44 World Cup victories, 3 Olympic medals), Raphaël Poirée then published his first book, “ We are not born a champion, we become it “, written in collaboration with the journalist of Dauphiné Liberated Yves Perret, now press manager of the AG2R-Citroën cycling team.

“My father smiles at life”

The tone was high, informative: he told of the discovery of skiing by a city child and the emerging media coverage of biathlon. A bit classic nonetheless, in the manner of these agreed monographs published by publishers surfing on the notoriety of a champion. Thirteen years later, the Poirée-Perret duo reunited for a second chapter called ” The pursuit of a life “ (1), whose tone is quite different.

Biathlon, life without Martin Fourcade

Everything is said, perhaps, in the last line of the last chapter, written by his eldest daughter: “My father smiles at life. “ We would be tempted to add “finally” to it, as the last thirteen years of Raphaël Poirée’s life, as a former champion, have been so painful. The “little death”, a somewhat frightening nickname for retirement from sports, he experienced painfully. Suffering in his body when he was hospitalized with two broken vertebrae after a quad bike accident. Bleeding in his heart when the golden couple he formed with Norwegian biathlon star Liv-Grete got bogged down in his unsaid and touchy character.

The man had a reputation for being silent asocial; he was in fact running behind the hope of the recognition of a stranger, his father, who had abandoned him shortly after his birth, before remaking his life in New Zealand. “ For me, playing sports was a way of shouting ”, he said from Bergen, Norway where he is based. But this father, who died shortly before he found his trace, never heard him.

Daily champion

Professionally, retraining has not been easier. In 2007, biathlon was still a confidential sport in France and race bonuses were not enough to secure the future. The great champion, who only lacked Olympic gold, found himself as a worker on the oil platforms, then a construction engineer, before taking the commercial management of a public works company. “Poor guy, he’s lost his mind. He is sad. We must help him, say those who have not understood that it is my simple and unique choice to exercise this profession ”, he wrote, addressed to an environment which has never quite understood it.

A second championship course, no longer fighting for glory but to raise his three daughters. “I wanted to leave a mark on my children, that they know my story and that they know that it is necessary to fight in the life”, he said before hanging up the phone with an excuse: ” Tomorrow I get up early. “


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