Quentin Fillon Maillet: Confidence Breeds Success

Quentin Fillon Maillet is simply on a roll; since his seventh place in the Hochfilzen sprint, he has won four consecutive pursuits, the Ruhpolding sprint and finished second in the Annecy Le Grand Bornand mass start. The result: Yellow Bib and Red Bibs on his chest, a big lead in the World Cup Total Score and growing confidence every time he puts on a bib and starts a competition.
In awe of Ole, Martin, Emil, Simon

Yet, none of this is a surprise to the 29-year-old Fillon Maillet. He worked very hard this past summer. He set his goals high, is now reaping the rewards, and has no intentions of slowing down or changing anything. The French star has come a long way from the “kid” who started the 2015 Ruhpolding mass start, in awe of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Emil Hegle Svendsen, Martin Fourcade, and Simon Schempp, standing next to him. With the Beijing Olympic Winter Games less than two weeks away, the man who said he felt like Superman in the Yellow Bib sat down for a few questions about his success, that first-ever podium in 2015, and his medal hopes for Beijing 2022.  

Biathlonworld (BW): It is just weeks before Beijing 2022; you have a career-high five wins this season and are wearing Yellow. Is this a dream coming true? 

Quentin Fillon Maillet (QFM): When I planned my season, I wanted to fight for the Total Score, fight for the wins every day in every race, but I never expected to start the season like this: five victories, two podiums, and I am Total Score leader, with a 100-point margin. It feels awesome!

 BW: After a slow start in Oestersund, you have gotten better and better. Did you want to start slow?

QFM: Not precisely, because I started last season a little slower. This summer, I planned to have a better start. But I made some shooting mistakes in Oestersund. I was so sad because I worked very hard all this summer to be ready. One podium in the two Oestersund weeks was not what I wanted. But directly after, in Hochfilzen, I had my first victory of 2021/2022; the shape was better; it was going on a good way. 

BW: Shooting is going well, even with the broken stock earlier. Were that break and the quick repair by Franck Badiou the turning point? 

QFM: When I Broke my riffle because I make my stocks myself. I have to thank Franck Badiou. He found a solution in three days to repair this rifle like new. I am shooting better, but it is not because of the break and repair. I had my shape back and then had trust in my shooting.

BW: What is the difference between being an 86% shooter early in the season and a 90% shooter now? 

QFM: The key to shooting is to be confident. It is all on me. I shot a lot this summer and focused on sending the bullets in the center of the targets. Now in the races, I am very focused on this manner of good shooting. I trust myself. I do not stress about skiing or shooting. When I start a race, I want to fight. I am not scared to lose; I want to fight for the win. It is all because I trust myself. 

BW: How much fun has it been battling with Emilien, Sebastian, Vetle, and the others? 

QFM: The fight has been close with Emilien, Sebastian, and Vetle. Every day, every race was tight. We ski very with a similar speed. It all depends on the shooting. I love this competition; it is so good. There have been seven different leaders this season in the World Cup. I have never seen this in the past. But then there was always Martin Fourcade and Johannes on the podium! 

BW: After winning the Ruhpolding sprint, you mentioned that you watched the 2015 mass start in the company of Simon and Michal Slesingr. What do you remember that was so special about that day and the photo finish? 

QFM: It was an unforgettable day! I saw Emil Hegle Svendsen, Simon Schempp, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, and Martin Fourcade standing next to me. I was just a little kid, watching the world cup races the year before that. At the start of the race, I never expected the podium. I just wanted to do my best. But that day, I was in the flow. The shape was perfect; I shot clean. The best memory is after the last shooting. I cleaned and went out of the shooting range with Simon Schempp. He did not go very fast, so I attacked because I did not want to wait. After the first uphill, no one wanted to take the lead. The same thing after the second uphill! I started to think I would make the podium. The finish was crazy! I tried to win but finished just two centimetres behind Schempp because I did not push my foot forward. I could use the “kid card” to surprise the field, but not now!

BW: What was it like to win the pursuit in Annecy Le Grand Bornand? 

QFM: It was very cool because at the moment, the only place with a lot of fans, French fans. For the French team, it was fantastic to race but to make a victory like this is incredible; a good memory. I took the lead and the Yellow Bib and wore number 1 for the mass start. 

BW: The competitions are going well now; what is the key to holding that high level before Beijing? 

QFM: The first thing is to stay healthy and not get C-19 which is necessary to go to the Olympic Games. I do not have anything special planned because it is less than two weeks before the mixed relay. Just a few days home and then travel to China. There is no big secret about what I will do. It will be the same way as in the World Cup.

BW: If you could only win one medal in Beijing, what competition would you choose? 

QFM: (Replying without hesitation) For sure, it is the mass start. It is the most beautiful race in biathlon as only the best 30 athletes compete. I want to win a Gold medal in an individual race in Beijing. It is my big, big goal!

Photos: IBU/ Manzoni, Thibaut, Walter

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