World Triathlon Podcast 76 - Marjolaine Pierre and Clement Mignon
They may still have been just 23 and 24 years old, but the French duo Marjolaine Pierre and Clement Mignon lit up the final day of the 2023 World Triathlon Multisport Championships Ibiza last month, the couple sealing the women’s and men’s Long Distance Triathlon titles just minutes apart and celebrating together with an iconic finish line moment.
It was the end of a huge project for both athletes, as well as the start of a new phase in their careers: two world champions that were already a couple when they first raced together as juniors back at the French National Championships in 2018, now on top of the world and hungry to continue their adventure together.
For Mignon, new coach Kasper Pedersen has clearly had a big impact on his results. For Pierre, the realisation that she had to make some key physical changes is she was to avoid the recurring stress fractures that had plagued her 2022 season was another major upheaval, and you can hear their full interview on episode 76 of the World Triathlon Podcast via Apple, Spotify and Google.
For Marjolaine Pierre, growing up in Reunion Island in a sport-loving family provided the perfect breeding ground for what was first a promising gymnastics career, then the altogether different challenge of swim-bike-run. Her partner, Clement Mignon, hails from the west of France, moving south at 18 to continue his studies before turning pro. Both continue to return to the humidity of the Indian Ocean Island for winter training.
It was there under the watchful eye of Kasper Pedersen that they began to formulate their plan to take on some of the best in the world at the 2023 Long Distance World Championships. It was a race distance that Mignon wasn’t familiar with, while Pierre hadn’t even ridden over 100km before the start of 2023.
Early on in the 120km bike, the 23-year-old suddenly found herself out front and all alone, a position she hadn’t ever been in over a distance she hadn’t raced before. She rose to the challenge magnificently.
“It was very difficult to know what power to push,” admits Pierre. “You have the choice to be patient or to be closer to your full power. Maybe you will lose a little distance, or you can have a nice explosion and be out of the race. You need to be ready for this type of race and have positive vibes around you. It was strange for me to be in this situation, but it became the perfect day.”
Mignon had already taken the men’s gold, running down the Spaniard Antonio Benito over the closing stages. It was able to be a considerably more relaxed finish for him to soak up from the sidelines as his partner took the tape by a margin of nine minutes, but there was little time to enjoy the moment with the next race - Challenge Samorin – coming up fast just a week later.
“To achieve this goal together is stronger, more emotional. The up is bigger, but the down also. I think before we go on another race we really need to take time and make a plan and to see and draw our goals and to prepare this properly and maybe make the same as in Ibiza.”
Samorin’s return to racing was indeed a tough one, coming down to earth with a bump just a week after their efforts on the White Isle, but they were far from alone in suffering the effects of travel and less-than-ideal preparations.
“We received a lot of messages after Ibiza and that was so good, we really want to reply to them all, we trained a bit but just easy but I think the recovery was not our main goal. Maybe it’s why we were so tired in Samorin but there were other athletes that did both and they were exhausted also…. We are young and maybe we made some mistakes because we are young, we want to share and we love racing, so it’s difficult to say, ‘no, I don’t want to race’.”
Next up for Mignon is the huge challenge of an Ironman World Championships in Nice. For Pierre, the prospect of Kona 2025 is already firmly fixed in her mind. And hopefully Townsville 2024, when the next edition of the World Triathlon Multisport Championships touch down in Australia.
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12:59 - 07 May, 2023