Handisport: Who are Marie Bochet and Cécile Hernandez?
Published: 06 October 2023
New medallists at the World Para Snow Sports World Championships in Lillehammer, skier Marie Bochet and snowboarder Cécile Hernandez brought France six medals between them.
Who are they?
Marie Bochet, the Snow Queen
Born in the Alps in 1994 with agenesis of the left forearm, she began skiing at the age of 5, then, with her precocious talent, took part in her first French championship at the age of 11.
She was spotted by the French Handisport Federation, and at the age of 15 joined the Albertville high school and its high-level skiing section, which brings together some of France’s best hopefuls, where she is the only handisport athlete.
In an interview, Marie Bochet says, “I’m not at all embarrassed to talk about it. On the contrary, I think it’s important to say that we’re just like everyone else, that we can achieve great sporting performances.”
At the age of sixteen, Marie Bochet took part in the 2010 Paralympic Games, but had mixed feelings about the event and the lack of medals.
She got her revenge four years later at the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, where she became the first French woman to win four Paralympic Winter Games titles.
She repeated the experience at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang with four new Olympic medals. The Paralympic champion spoke to Brut. on his situation and that of disabled people in France: ” We need to open people’s minds a little about disability in France, and make able-bodied people realize that disabled people are nonetheless capable of doing great things. To make people with disabilities realize that their handicap is not a limitation, but rather an opening to new adventures.“
Last week, Marie Bochet returned from Lillehammer with four medals from the World Para Snow Sports Championships. There’s every reason to believe that she will once again win four medals at the 2022 Paralympic Games in Beijing next March.
Cécile Hernandez, from BMX to snowboarding
Cécile Hernandez began her sporting career with BMX, which she competed in at international level, before discovering snowboarding. She practised both disciplines for several years before waking up in 2002 totally paralysed from the waist down, and discovering that she had a serious illness: multiple sclerosis.
This was followed by three years in a wheelchair and years of treatment when, in 2012, she took part in a raid from Lyon to Bordeaux by bike and kayak, realizing that she could do sport again despite her disability. But it was in 2013 that her life took an unexpected turn when she got back on a snowboard at Valmorel by chance and was spotted by a rider from theFrench handisport snowboard team.
In 2014 in Sochi, Cécile Hernandez took part in the Paralympic Games for the first time, finishing as Paralympic vice-champion in snowboard cross. At the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, she will leave France with two medals: bronze in snowboardcross and silver in slalom.
Last week, Cécile Hernandez once again won two medals in Lillehammer at the World Para Snow Sports Championship.
However, for the 2022 Paralympic Games in Beijing, Cécile Hernandez’s category has been eliminated due to a lack of female competitors. Three-time Olympic medallist denounces injustice “I’m allowed to race with the girls at the world championships and not at the Games, even though it’s the same organizations. It’s a real rager! Up to now, I’ve won every race. If I don’t go to the Games, it’s completely unfair”. she added on France Bleu Roussillon “Ever since I became disabled, I’ve been fighting to cope with life’s injustices. And now it’s even worse, because I’ve been preparing for eight years. The resort of Les Angles is putting money into me, the federation is putting a lot of money into me, all my partners are putting a lot of money into me, and to deprive me of the Games is to deprive them too. The International Paralympic Committee is completely flouting all the values of presenting the best athletes, a value of inclusion, even more so in disability. It’s totally unfair.”
The French Disabled Sports Federation, supported by the CPSF (French Paralympic Sports Committee), has taken up the case and lodged an appeal. But the decision will only be handed down a few days before the Games…