In 2022, Jean Leher is finally allowed to compete for Luxembourg. The French-born woman immediately found her way and came to her first positive conclusions last year. Her wish at the time for 2023 was to win a medal for Luxembourg, enter the top 30 in the world rankings and get closer to qualifying for the Olympic Games. Expectations and hopes that I have managed to far exceed in the past few months.
With great results in the Triathlon Premier League, first places in the World Cup Series, a podium finish at the Miyazaki World Cup and, as the icing on the cake, on June 4 in Madrid, gold medals at the European Sprint Triathlon Championships. It has been a very successful season for Gene Lehire.
All these results lifted the 27-year-old to 11th place in the world rankings at the end of the season, 8th place in the World Championship races and, above all, 8th place in the Olympic rankings. So there will be a lot of bad luck if Leher doesn’t start in Paris.
You’ve had a very successful season. Did you expect these results?
Certainly not at this stage, all expectations have been far exceeded. Of course I hoped I could reach this level one day, but I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. That’s why I’m happier.
I almost qualified for the Olympics.
I also think we can slowly start planning for Paris. I’m currently ranked 8th in the Olympic qualifiers and should be in the top 55 in that ranking by the end of May. So the chances are not so bad that you don’t have to worry too much anymore.
But can we no longer hope for a relay to Paris?
We won’t throw in the towel just yet. Our relay team can qualify for the Olympic Games via the second route. A qualifying race is scheduled to be held in Mexico in mid-May, and the top two teams who have not yet qualified will still be able to obtain a ticket to Paris.
Do you think the French Federation regrets your joining Luxembourg?
At the moment I think this is probably not the case. France has a big, good team. Maybe that will change after the Paris matches.
Conversely, do you regret not being able to compete with France in Paris?
I can definitely answer this question in the negative. Without Luxembourg’s support and the opportunities afforded to me, sporting development might not have progressed so quickly. They fit from front to back. So I can say with certainty that I do not regret this step at all.
In the 2023 Sportswoman of the Year election, did you come in a very good second place, or do you see it differently and are disappointed not to have won this title?
I never thought I would win this election. I’m still the “new guy” and the other candidates have had great results. I was most surprised and, above all, happy that I was able to get so many points and take second place. Sports journalists made the right decision with Patricia van der Wyken, she deserves it. Maybe it will work out for me next year, and I’ll do everything I can to recommend myself.
All my expectations were exceeded
Have you already planned for the 2024 season?
Of course I’ve already thought about it, but I haven’t come up with a solid plan yet. I have some ideas running through my head, but they haven’t settled yet. I have set myself a date for January, and then I will decide the new season in cooperation with my coach. Most importantly, I will not take any unnecessary risks before the Olympics; I do not want, nor should I, to jeopardize my beginning in Paris.
If you participate, what goals have you set for the Olympic Games?
Goals are the wrong expression, you have desires and ideas. My dream is to finish in the top eight in Paris. If it gets any further, of course I’ll be happy to take it with me. But my biggest wish is not to be disappointed with my race when I cross the finish line in Paris.
What will be possible in Paris?
As for all athletes, if you look far ahead: a medal. Of course I want to be at the top, otherwise I wouldn’t have to try.
How much respect do your opponents show you now?
This is a very good question. And I can’t really answer it, you’ll have to ask the other ladies. On the one hand, I think this cannot be answered universally, but on the other hand, I assume that all athletes show respect for each other. But the competition might be a little more “scared” of me at first than it has been in the past.
The New Year is coming, what do you wish for yourself and what do you wish for those around you?
The most important thing in life: happiness and health! For every person. For me personally, a great moment in Paris would be the cherry on the cake.
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