If you are going to be a biathlete in Canada, you had better be prepared to be a loner. Myriam Bédard loves to be alone. “The last five days, I didn’t want to eat with anybody, I didn’t want to talk with anybody,” said the 24-year-old from Loretteville, Que., who last week won gold in a 15-km race that also requires competitors to stop four times and fire five bullets at distant targets. “What I found hardest was that there was so much going on it was hard to think about myself. And people were yelling at me on the course, ‘Go, Myriam, go,’ and I was getting distracted. I had to come back
to this mental state I used in the last five days: just be by myself, think of myself, do what I want to do.”
Bédard, who will also compete in the 7.5-km and the relay races this week, has always done things her way. Since capturing a bronze medal at the Albertville Games, she has quarrelled with Biathlon Canada officials over her sponsorship agreements. She usually trains by herself with a coach whose identity she carefully guards and whose advice she accepts without question. And this year, she stoically persevered with a training program
geared for the one Olympic moment—and nothing else—despite a series of low placings this winter that had critics predicting disaster at the Games. But in her last two pre-Olympic races, Bédard recorded fifthplace finishes—right where she wanted to be, as it turned out. “It was hard for me to say I’m going for the Olympics only, but my way was to do it all at the Olympics,” she said with a smile of vindication.
Bédard was awake at 4 a.m. the day of the big race, and slept fitfully after that. She started in 67th position, third from last. “I knew I had to ski well, not fall, come to the standing shooting not tired,” said Bédard. The enthusiastic spectators pushed her during the skiing portions. “I had goose bumps,” she said later. But Bédard—who had forbidden her own parents, Francine and Pierre, from cheering—tried to block out all distractions on the shooting range. “When you come to the range, you really have to be in control of everything,” she said. And she was at home on the range: she missed just two of 20 targets—adding only two minutes of penalty time to the skier’s total. “When I missed one, I thought it was over,” she said, adding that her legs were so tired they were shaking. But with one kilometre to go, she was 40 seconds ahead of her nearest challenger,
Anne Briand of France, and knew the gold was hers. “I was coming like a bomb to the range,” Bédard said. “That’s where the race was won today—on the range.” Alone.
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