Thursday, June the 20:

From my studio apartment in Paris, I see the first pictures of Lienz on Facebook. The British and the Czech are already there and training on the spot since 2 weeks, while I’m stuck in Paris for my job and my studies! « I can feel my stress levels rising! »

Friday, June the 21st: the great departure for Austria.

First, Jéromine has to finish her last exams and hup we are off to Austria with Jérome Gaudin : THE coach.

We finally reach Lienz after a 14 hours ride, right on time for a tiny breakfast and our first training session.

I feel comfortable right away in the roll: I can perfectly carry out my loops and the landscape is majestic! The official trainings follow on. Claire O’hara (2011 World Champion) is in great shape and put her figures together. The British, the Norwegian, the Czech and the Germans: all the ladies are here and very motivated.

Wednesday, June the 23: qualifications get started; the addition of 2 runs will select us for the semifinal. Now the competition begins!

For my first run I feel good on the water. My outsiders and I are warming up above the roll, but bit by bit they all go down the roll to start their run. I’m the only one to do an entrymove!

The referee gives me the go and then everything goes very fast : wave wheel, huge loop, left and right space godzilla, clean cartwheel on the right, split wheel, cartwheel on the left. I have 15 seconds left; I try the Mc nasty and hup end of my first run. Everybody shouts on the bank: it feels so great !

I rank first of the qualifications with 513 points, ahead of Claire O’hara (470 points) and Nina Csonkova.

On Thursday, I can rest, but it’s also competition day for junior and senior men. I put on my fan clothes to cheer the other French team members.

Friday : semifinal.

After the great performances of the French team (6 over 7 athletes are qualified for the quarterfinal and semifinal), it’s my turn to pass through the semifinal. The stress is getting more and more oppressing : mistake is no longer an option. All my outsiders want to take my place : « I can feel it ! » During the warming up, faces are tensed, looks meet. My first run: « no sensations, no pleasure, only fear… ». My coach appeases me: « get placed, put your figures out, you have time, focus on the perfect run ! », which is exactly what I did for my second run and I finally rank first again.

Saturday : final, D-day ! Confrontation of the 5 best kayakers!

Only 3 French athletes remain : Jéromine Hervo (junior woman), Sebatien Devred (senior man) and I. The others have partied all night, and in the morning they tell me the anecdotes of the party! Just what I need to relax since the final will be arduous.

On one side, I have my outsiders who made great runs during the semifinal and who can feel confident; and on the other side I have the memory of my first semifinal  run, my stress and my doubts. Anyway for the final the best run over 3 will get one of us to the first place.

Senior women final is at 3 o’clock pm : It’s hard to wait !

Hopefully I have Jéromine, Djé (the French coach) and Bérangère (a friend and international referee). While the final gets closer, I’m getting more and more motivated with some loud music on the parking where I’m getting dressed.

It’s finally time to go on board! 20 minutes left before my first run. I am the last one to pass, starting above the roll again, and alone with my adrenaline! I can see Maria Lindgren (Swedish athlete) in the roll : « in a few second it’s my turn ».

I go down the roll, my heart beats faster but I’m completely lucid : « I’m gonna  win !».

So much adrenaline, I’m on cloud nine.

Then the speaker announces: « the 2012 European champion is Marlène Devillez from France !». Incredible, magnificent, perfect: no word can describe exactly how it feels to reach the goal I’ve been training for, for years. I first savor this moment on my own and then I have to share it since nothing could have been possible without my family, my lover, my friends, my coach, STACCATO and LEVEL-SIX.


« It’s grâce à vous » ;)

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