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Prominent French biathlete takes on a new role of coach

Raphael Poiree appointed head coach of Belarusian national men’s biathlon team

By Denis Kemerov

The day after the famous French athlete signed his contract (in the hall of the hotel at Raubichi Sports Complex) he held his first training session in his new role. He is due to head the squad until the end of the Sochi Winter Games in 2014. The second coach is Alexander Syman — a famous Belarusian biathlete from recent times.

Despite a rich collection of awards and titles, the Frenchman doesn’t boast a rich coaching career as yet. He retired from sport in 2007, to coach in Norway — where his wife was born (former biathlete Liv Grete Skjelbreid). Poiree worked with Norwegian juniors and has liaised with Norwegian national team leader Tarjei Bo for the last two seasons, assisting him in marksmanship.

“I must admit that I knew little about Belarus before visiting,” he notes, sharing his first impressions. “I’d heard mostly negative views from acquaintances and friends, who warned me against coming. However, on arrival in Belarus in April — for negotiations with the Belarusian Biathlon Federation — I saw everything with my own eyes and changed my ideas about Belarus for the better. I love being here, although it’s been difficult to persuade my wife (I asked for time to think everything over). She isn’t pleased that we’ll be often separated, although we had to endure similar times when I was working with Norwegian biathletes.”

The Belarusian squad already has one Frenchman on the squad: Olivier Gonon (in the service group, selecting the lubricant for skis). He has worked with Raphael Poiree previously.

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