Anais Bescond’s Long Career “A Big Surprise”

Posing the question, “If you go back to when you were 18 and won Youth Relay WCH Gold with Marie Dorin Habert, did you imagine you would stay in biathlon until you were 35?” With a huge look of surprise on her face, Anais Bescond replied, “No way, I still think it is all a big surprise. I never expected that. My philosophy on biathlon and lifestyle has always been one year by one year, take it as it comes. If it is nice, then good; if it is bad, try to do better. I never had any really big goals. I always thought I am just here, doing my best. Time went so fast. In my mind, I am still training but I am not!”

The always smiling Bescond’s long career ended this past season and what a career it was: an Olympic Gold and two Bronze medals, seven IBU World Championships medals, fourteen individual podiums and 43 relay, mixed and single mixed relay podiums.

Header iconAnais Bescond Retires

Biathlon Good-Byes

She said her final biathlon good-byes at a special event on May 29 with fans, family friends and teammates saluting her. “It was really emotional. It was an important step: first there was my decision, then the nice event in Oslo with the IBU Family, another at the French Championships, I really loved to share it with those people. It was sad but nice, a really big mix of emotions.”

Mountain Bike Marathon with best friend Marie

Since that time, Bescond has been busy, among other things, competing in a multi-day mountain bike marathon with her former teammate and “my best friend Marie." “It was strange not being an athlete but with a big goal because it was really tough and being with Marie who is always in shape; I used to be so focused and professional. It was important to have a goal, be challenged and have a reason to go outside. The first month after retiring, I mostly rested, went to Canada with Andrew (Chisholm) but was still active, training on the mountain bike. (Retiring) is a big process to go through, so it was nice to have the people I love around me for support. I felt kind of empty and needed to fill it again with other things. I went to school to learn how to be a coach and did new things. Before I was an athlete training and now, I am learning how to be a trainer.”

Bescond projects a positive attitude in and out of sports, but admitted, “I think I became a positive person because of biathlon; all of the people I met and experiences I had. I was not a positive person as a teenager. The life I have today is because of biathlon; I am a better person.”

First Victory: “unique…unfortunately”

That positive thinking brought this lady with “no big goals” a handful of highlights that she fondly recalls. “My first and only victory at the 2014 Antholz sprint was a big surprise. So exciting; I do not know why this one was better than the others and why I never did it again. I shared the podium with Andrea Henkel and Darya Domracheva, who were two big personalities. I am so proud of it. An amazing memory…unique, unfortunately.”

The 2016 IBU World Championships in Oslo was one of my best weeks in biathlon for sure. It was amazing; I have really good memories; finishing (second) with (Gold medalist) Marie in the individual race is an important part of my athletic life and my friendship with her.”

It is still kind of a dream to think about the 2018 Olympic Mixed Relay Gold medal. It is something like, ‘Wow, I did it,” and it was with friends, people that I love. It was unbelievable.”

Another “best week’ In Annecy Le Grand Bornand

With her career in the home stretch, Bescond added another episode to her highlight reel, 2nd place in the Annecy Le Grand Bornand sprint, at home in front of her adoring French fans. “It was another of my best weeks, all in eight years. I am proud and already miss it, but I know I have these and no one can take it away from me. I have this feeling that I really did something good.”

Relays “friendship and the journey”

Although these four highlights stand out, Bescond’s fondness for relays ran throughout her career. “They were special because of the people that I shared those podiums with. It was a nice journey with them. I have this weakness that they probably will remember it also. It is something more; it is not just me. I do not have too much confidence and do not trust myself at all. Being together in a relay helped me to realize that I am taking part in something bigger and that made me really excited. Friendship and the journey were the best parts of biathlon, all together.”

With her biathlon memories safely tucked away, the 35-year-old is moving on. “My contract with the Army goes for five years and then I will probably be in Canada. The Army has supported me for 15 years and I want to keep going, doing something with sport but I am still waiting for a final answer about that.”

“Sport is good training for life”

Reflecting on her career, Bescond thinks biathlon taught her two big lessons, “humility and resilience. Keep up. If you enjoy it, keep doing it. It is so nice, such a nice experience, even if it is sometimes tough, it is worth it. Sport is good training for life. It gives you so many good skills, even if you do not realize it in the moment.”

Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni, Jerry Kokesh, Anais Bescond

Share this article

Header iconSign up for our newsletter