Present Olympic Athletes >> Isabelle Delobel
- Date of birth
Lydie Bontemps (1990-99), Tatiana Tarasova (2000-02), Muriel Boucher-Zazoui (1999-00 and since 2002)
Pasquale Camerlengo, Marie-France Dubreuil - Patrice Lauzon (since 2008)
World Championships (1 medal - 1 gold)
- Ice dance: 1st (2008)
European Championships (3 medals - 1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze)
- Ice dance: 1st (2007), 2nd (2008), 3rd (2005)
A dream for two
She is a hot-blooded brunette and he is a cool-headed blonde. But they say opposites attract and the crowd-pleasing French ice dance duo of Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder which won the 2008 world title is guiding this heady mix toward an Olympic gold at Vancouver 2010.
Destiny would take them both to Lyon in 1990 for a training programme put on by Irina Moiseeva and Andrei Minenkov, the mythical Russian dance pair. At just 12 and 13-years they cemented a decision to form a team, thanks for encouragement from esteemed coach Lydia Bontemps and quit their familiy homes to train seriously.
Their progress was swift and they won the silver medal at the world juniors in 1996 before going on to again finish runners-up at the French championships in 2000 behind future Olympic champions Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat.
Then after nine fruitful years under the guidance of Bontemps, they switched to the guidance of Muriel Boucher-Zazoui who had trained Anissina and Peizerat before switching for two years to the legendary Russian coaching maestro Tatiana Tarasova.
They competed at the Olympics for the first time at Salt Lake in 2002 and finished 16th, while Anissina and Peizerat took gold and then retired.
That opened the path for Delobel-Schoenfelder as Muriel Boucher-Zazoui dedicated all her time and efforts to mould the next French hopes in ice-dancing.
Steady progress over the next four years led them to the Turin Games in 2006 with renewed hopes of a medal but it wasn't to be as they finished in the cruellest position of fourth.
They also agonisingly finished fourth twice at the Europeans and twice at the worlds between 2004 and 2007.
However they got the breakthrough their hard work and talent deserved first in 2007 when they became European champions in Warsaw and then took the world title one year later at Gothenburg.
The 2008 aseason also bore rich fruit with the title at Skate America, the Bompard Trophy and the Grand Prix Final at Goyang in South Korea.
However, Delobel suffered a problematic shoulder injury that needed surgery in January 2009 and deprived them a chance to defend their world crown in Los Angeles.
Isabelle also became a mother in October 2009 which will shorten their preparation.
One happier obstacle to the ultimate victory is that Delobel is due to give birth in September 2009, the father being Ludovic Roux, a Nordic Combined bronze medallist at Nagano in 1998.
Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.