He has a real admiration for those who live dynamically and he ‘rejects’ people who don’t believe in themselves. And to believe in himself was crucial to achieve what he has achieved, four gold medals at the Junior World MTB Orienteering Championships. Learn more about Cédric Beill, born in Strasbourg, France, 20 years ago.
A world title is always a remarkable achievement in a sportsman’s career. But four titles – all at the same event (!) – more than remarkable, it’s a historic achievement. What does it feel like, having four gold medals on your chest?
Cédric Beill (C. B.) - Of course a gold medal in a Championships is an outstanding moment in the career of an athlete. Four gold medals in the same Championships was something wholly unexpected for me! I have been striving for a medal since 2008 when I participated for the first time in the Junior World Championships. Until this year, the best results achieved were 5th place in 2010 in Portugal and a 6th last year in Hungary.
In this last year in the junior class, I really didn’t want to fail in my fight for a medal. And of course I haven’t failed. From my point of view, these Championships will remain forever as the most amazing! It was, quite simply, the most fantastic week of my still young career.
You mean it was worth the effort, the work, the sacrifices...
C. B. - Actually, a season like this is not achieved without sacrifices, without work. Having pushed aside my studies two years ago to do more training, I ended up having less time this year to devote myself to training and preparation camps. I practice cross-country skiing intensively in winter, while I also do ski orienteering and foot orienteering which represents a larger share of my preparation programme. For two years I attended a college run by the French Federation, the Pôle Espoir de Fontainebleau, in order to better combine sport with studies, which turned out to give me a solid foundation in terms of training.
For four years now I have been trained by André Hermet, the coach of the French team. In the midst of this, my family and those who are closest to me ended up having a huge importance for their support. Likewise, my club (CO Colmar), the French Orienteering Federation and my region (Région Alsace) are an important addition to this support, ensuring the continuity of my preparation for the whole year.
When did you discover this affinity with MTB orienteering?
C. B. - MTB orienteering is not in any way a sport that I have practiced since I was a kid. I started foot orienteering from the age of seven and only later discovered MTB orienteering. It was at a time when I took part in sport at my school where the activities were organised by Caroline Finance, member of the French team in the first five MTBO World Championships. That’s how it started; I was thirteen years old, and the enthusiastic years that followed were led by another big name in the MTB orienteering world, Jérémie Gillmann, who has the best individual results ever in the French national team. It was he who revealed to me the secrets of this sport and accompanied me to the first races.
Do you have any references in this sport, athletes that you follow as role models?
C. B. - Of course my true model is Jérémie Gillman, an athlete who achieved a remarkable number of medals in the World Championships. As any youngster, I have a huge admiration for him and following in his steps is a real dream. Apart from that, I think we all dream of being able to have a career as long and as full of success as Michaela Gigon’s.
When you got to Rakvere, what were your goals? Was reaching the four gold medals something that was already in your ambitions?
C. B. - I came to Rakvere aiming to be on the podium at least once, something that has never happened before. Another goal was to be in the top six in all four races.
Tell me about your preparation for the races. How did you cope with so much emotion, managing to keep a cool head for the day after?
C. B. - It is a fact that winning a gold medal carries with it a huge set of emotions. After the first day and the Sprint title, I must admit that it took some time before I got the mental space to concentrate on the following race. Each race is a new challenge and you have to start all over again from zero. The truth is that right until the last race I managed to stay focused, which allowed me to win the four gold medals. Jacques Schmidt-Morgenröth, who was also present in the junior competition, was a great help and gave me a lot of strength, as he is my training partner throughout the year. To live through the Championships with him next to me was really something.
Among the strongest sensations of these Championships, I ask you to select the one - and only one - that will be forever etched in your memory?
C. B. - The victory in the Relay race, in personal terms, was the strongest feeling of these Championships. When, having waited for your arrival, your team-mates throw themselves into your arms and celebrate the victory - that provides an amazing set of feelings.
How do you evaluate the Championships in general?
C. B. - My opinion and that of the whole French team is that these were very well organised Championships. The event offered beautiful terrain, framed by no less beautiful arenas. The courses were challenging and I actually found, throughout the week, an organisation with great dynamism.
And now? Do you already see yourself fighting alongside the “big guys”?
C. B. - Clearly this is one of my future projects. Now I’m looking for integration into the French elite during some races in my own country. And it is with considerable anxiety that I await the arrival of 2014, my first season in the Elite class, to find out what my place is there. I have already had the chance to participate in the World Cup ranking elite, in Italy and Hungary, which was a truly enriching experience.
Of course, winning a world title in the Elite class is your ultimate goal in the future. Do you believe that it will be possible already in Bialystok, Poland, next year?
C. B. - Yes, this will certainly be my big goal for the future. I’ll try to do my best in every chance I get and to prepare myself as well as possible. But I think I will have, above all, a year of adaptation. The format of the races will be longer now and the competitive level will also increase greatly.
A final word regarding the MTB orienteering world and, in particular, French MTB orienteering?
C. B. - As in any sport, it is necessary to persevere in one’s efforts to enable the results to appear. MTB orienteering is a sport that requires time; the pleasure of practicing comes next. So, the question is: When will we have a major event in France?!
[See the original article at http://www.orienteering.org/edocker/inside-orienteering/2013-5/InsideOrient%205_13.pdf. Published with permission from the International Orienteering Federation]