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Marine Kabiru, mountain bike champion. “My rivals are also my friends.”

The 25-year-old mountain biker collects medals. Ahead of the next racing season, which opens this Saturday, March 25, with the first race in Milo, he is confident about his career, his models and his ambitions.

Going better but well anchored. This year, too, Marine Cabirou, the French mountain bike champion, will ride to the top of the steep slopes. There is no question of slamming on the brakes in this discipline, the most spectacular of mountain biking, where the goal is to be the fastest despite the obstacles. Because there’s no stopping the world runner-up, who has just recovered from breaking three vertebrae at the World Championships in Leogang in June 2022.

The athlete from Millau in Aveyron, a region from which she has retained her accent, started mountain biking at age 10 with her older brother taking her after school. He enrolled in a cycling school in the city and gradually discovered mountain biking. On marked trails, where the challenge is to have fun with the obstacles, he rushes headlong. At the age of 18, despite being a junior world champion, he decided to continue his studies to secure his future outside of this fast-growing discipline. Ahead of next season, she summarizes the place of women in her evolving discipline and her goals for the near future.

Madame Figaro .- This is a special season that opens because you start again after an injury. How do you perceive it?
Marine Kabiru: mountain biking remains a risky sport, I broke three vertebrae last July (During the 2022 World Cup, editor’s note) It’s a big injury that needs to take time to heal. When you are a top athlete, you always want to come back quickly, but there I decided not to participate in the last season to help my recovery. Today I have no side effects, no more pain and it’s nice to be back cycling and feeling like myself. You never know what to expect when you get back into competition, especially when you haven’t competed in an entire season. But it’s an extra motivation because we have to get back on the level. Now the goal for me is definitely victory. And the program of the season will be the eight rounds of the World Cup, the World Championship and some small parallel races.

Extreme sports are still often considered a male domain. Have you experienced these sexist stereotypes in your career?
It’s true that mountain biking was originally considered a men’s sport. When I did my first competitions, we were two or three girls. It was complicated because it was always seen as a boy’s sport, but today that is changing. When you go to the World Cup now, you see a lot of women, and in the clubs there are more and more young girls who are starting to ride mountain bikes. In general, sports develop with society, women have a growing place in sports.

Is there a form of sisterhood that is expressed among female athletes who are still in the minority?
It is clear that being few brings us closer. It’s a small environment, we all know each other and today my competitors are also friends. in mountain biking you’re racing against time, not man, it makes for a good atmosphere.

Growing up, did you have any female role models who inspired you?
I would like to quote Anne-Caroline Chausson. He was the legend. he is a 13-time world champion in mountain biking and won BMX at the 2008 Olympics. It was individuality that dominated the sport and allowed discipline to develop.

Since I’m into mountain biking, the men’s and women’s races are exactly the same

Marine Kabiru

Do you perceive differences in the attitudes of men and women regarding the organization of competitions and media coverage?
Since I started mountain biking, the men’s and women’s races are exactly the same. The tracks are identical. And during mountain biking, I think there is no difference in interest. It’s a sport that’s just starting to become popular, the people who are interested in it are drawn to the action and the overall dynamism, and the girls are watching as much as the boys.

Within this competition, which has only been around since the 1990s, do you still see changes in the discipline?
Yes, sports are changing, especially this year because we have to have more broadcasts on the big channels. With visibility, the public also becomes aware of what mountain biking is all about. People thought we were going straight down the field, when it’s a pretty thoughtful sport with trajectory choices. There is a lot of analysis and work behind it.

Do you communicate in English in your social networks, is it because there is more recognition abroad?
The sport has developed a lot in France, most of the current drivers are French, but the vast majority of the public remains English-speaking.

You travel a lot, how do you experience it?
Indeed, from May to October we only travel to go from one race to another. Sometimes it’s not easy, we make this life choice because we like to move, but we’re glad to come home every now and then.

Back to sport. How long before we can see results on the body?

Source: Le Figaro

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