Interview with Valentine Marchon - young hopeful triathlete
“Racing is fun! I’m happy when I've given it my best”
Encounter with Valentine Marchon, age 10 (2008), primary school student and young hopeful national level triathlete in Switzerland.
Picture to the left: Valentine winning Acquanyon in 2007 (mixed gender race!)
Check out www.valentine-tri.ch
Thank you Valentine for granting this interview to Help-for-Hope. It is wonderful that you have agreed to help children in need through your triathlon races, and to be the association's first "Kids-for-Hope" ambassador (children racing for children in need).
Today, you are winning races at the national level. How did you first get into sports?
First, I started running, because my daddy is a runner [editor’s note: one of the fastest mid-endurance runners in the Geneva area, semi-marathon best of 1:11:25 and 1’000m best of 2:33 ]. I also learned swimming, two years ago, my parents wanted me to learn this skill, so I would not be harmed if I fell into the water.
I learned swimming at the “Les Dauphins de Genève” club, which also had a triathlon group. The club is great, there are all ages, also adults, and they are cool, we have fun.. (picture to the right: Valentine on her last meters of the Escalade 2007, winning her age group)
Date of birth : February 25, 1998
Place of birth :Geneva, Switzerland
Profession :Primary school student
Highlights :1st place Escalade race 2007 (out of 800 age-group kids), 1st place Swiss junior
triathlon championship 2007, 1st place Triathlon Yverdon-les-Bains 2008, 1st place Triathlon
Goal in sports :Worldchampion in triathlon
Motto :“The important thing is not to have won, but to have given it your best“
(Baron de Coubertain)
Please tell us about your first race…
My first race was in fall 2006. It was a running race in Onex near Geneva. I came in 2nd. I felt very nervous at the start, but once I started running, I was not so nervous anymore.
Congratulations, Valentine! What followed then?
Then followed the Escalade in Geneva [editor’s note: with a total of 30’000 runners the largest running competition in Switzerland, and also in Europe excluding the big marathons and half-marathons]. For my age group, the course was 1’800 m long. First, my dad did not want to sign me up for fear that I would be crushed at the start, with all us kids rushing off… But he did at the last moment. And I came in 3rd of my age group.
When did you discover triathlon?
In 2007, I participated in the Aqua Nyon, a race that combines swimming and running. And later that year, in August 2007, I did my first triathlon, also in Nyon, where I finished runner-up. I had trained a bit in the pool of my grandpa, and my dad had shown me how to do the transitions. It was all through playing games, and we had lots of fun.
Then, also in August 2007, I did the Triathlon of Lausanne. It was the first time I won a triathlon. My dad later told me that it was the Swiss junior championship... The distances were 100m swim, 3km bike, and 1.4km run. There were 80 kids in total.
That’s impressive, Valentine! How did you experience this race?
At the start, I wanted to be in the front, but there were all boys, and all starting spots were filling up soc quickly. I ended up starting at the very far end. I was very nervous, at the beginning I was afraid to drawn. On the bike leg, I had a mountain bike, while the others had race bikes, and I lost more time. Fortunately, I caught up with them during the run, my specialty, and could pass them.
It was a lot of fun, and I was very happy, because I thought that I fought well and that I gave my best (picture to the right: Geneva Cross Championship 2008)
And then, what happened?
Then I did the Kidstria, normally a triathlon but that day the lake was so agitated that the swim was replaced by another run. I placed 1st. And then the Escalade, where I came in 1st. This year 2008, I did the Geneva cross championship, placing 2nd, and the race in Cologny, that I won. And then came the first triathlon, in Yverdon, that I also won.
Please tell us about the Escalade 2007…
There were 800 kids in my age group running the race. The course is 1’800 meters long, and goes through the old town of Geneva. The year before I had finished 3rd. My dad had put a challenge to me with a small prize, as a joke. I think he thought that I’d never win, given that usually the best are there. So I thought “I have to win, I have to win, there is this challenge from my dad”, and so I won. I was very happy.
At school there were a lot of people telling me “bravo”, because the race is so well known. But nothing has changed (picture to the left: start of the Escalade 2007, Valentine's age group)
Congratulations Valentine, a great win! How do you train for races?
At the moment, I swim twice a week, about 2km each session. I run also twice a week, for about 30 minutes a session. And on the weekends, I go out with my dad on the bike. In winter, I also do cross-country skiing.
For the runs, when my dad and I do interval trainings, he has a hard time to keep up with me. I guess he’s getting older (smiles)
What are your racing plans for this year 2008?
I’ll do the Triathlon of Préverenges (July 6) and Aqua Nyon (July 19), then we go on holiday. Then I’ll do the Triathlon of Lausanne, the Kidstria, and the Escalade.
How do you prepare for races?
I put the bike ready with the right gear, the shoes already open, the helmet in the right direction. And then when everything is ready, I try to mentally go through the motions of the transition. And I try to go through the course, mentally, to imagine the course (picture to the right: start of Geneva Cross Championship 2008, Valentine in blue shirt focusing on starting line)
What is your best racing memory?
Everything… it is fun. I looove racing. But I don’t like training. The heat. Or swimming in cold water.
What are your goals going forward?
My dream is to be World Champion of Triathlon. You need to train a lot for that...
Do you have any role models in triathlon?
My role model is Vanessa Fernandez, the current World Champion. She too is Portuguese [note from the editor: Valentine’s mother is from Portugal]. For running, my model is my dad, because he runs faster than me. If today I win races, it is thanks to him.
Note from Valentine’s dad, Olivier Marchon…
I think it is essential that things are not blown out of proportion. My wife and I want Valentine to grow up with a “normal” life. We want to keep the innocence, and the play, in Valentine. The way to the top oof sports is long and risky, I’ve seen that myself. It is all play for the moment. If she wants to give it a shot, it will be her decision. For now, she needs to have fun, and no pressure whatsoever. It is always delicate for parents, how much training… how to keep the passion… for the moment I emphasize swimming, and run technique, in a playful way.
And we have a lot of fun together, it is a great way to spend time together with my daughter. We need to be careful that we keep a balance with our son, Alexi, who is more oriented to sprint distances, and that the family remains the main focus.
Picture to the left: Olivier during the Escalade 2001 (for his blog, click here).
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- 07/04 Andreas won IM 70.3 New Orleans !
- 07/04 Géraldine flies over Paris Marathon !
- 14/04 Relay Race Bulle, H4H's podium!
- 27/03 The RB's start into the new season !
- 14/03 Andy Athlete of the year 2012 !
- 17/02 First National Medal for Pierre
- 11/01 H4H Fun Team's Fondue event
- 06/01 H4H at Nice Prom'Classic !
- 01/01 World Class Ambassadors for H4H !
- 16/12 4 H4H Relay Teams at Silvesterlauf !
- 30/11 The Very's Bikers at l'Escalade !
- 06/12 Andi Birnbacher supports H4H on FB!
- 25/11 Advent Race, podiums for H4H!
- 24/11 Camilla & Caroline at Triathlon Party!
- 04/10 Team H4H on Noviodurun's podium!
- 28/10 Team H4H fantastic in Lausanne!
- 13/10 The Raelert Brothers in Hawaii!
- 07/10 Pierre in Morat-Fribourg!
- 02/10 Frank's & Eugénie's Rally in Corsica!
- 23/09 Sybille qualifies for Las Vegas!
- 10/09 Micha at 70.3 World Championships!
- 02/09 Andy wins Challenge Walchsee!
For previous races, please check under Events