Imagen
A female Para snowboarder competing

Cecile Hernandez

Snowboard | Alpine Skiing
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Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Impaired muscle power
Origin of Impairment
Acquired
Classification
SB-LL1

Further personal information

Family
Daughter Victoire-Eleonore [2007]
Other names
Cecile Hernadez-Cervellon
Residence
France
Occupation
Athlete, Motivational Speaker
Languages
Catalan, French

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She began snowboarding as a girl, and first tried Para snowboard in December 2013.
Why this sport?
"In the mid-1990s I was doing BMX, but the discipline was gradually being abandoned in favour of mountain biking, so I started looking for a sport that would give me the same sensations as BMX. Gliding, speed, trajectories and jumps. As I lived in a mountainous region, snowboarding came to me and I immediately loved it."
Club / Team
Douanes [FRA] / SC Les Angles [FRA]:
Name of coach
Yannis Dole [national], FRA

International debut

Year
2013
Competing for
France

General interest

Nicknames
Cash (Facebook page, 29 May 2020)
Hobbies
Writing, BMX, surfing. (Instagram profile, 18 Sep 2022; sportmag.fr, 02 May 2021; lindependant.fr, 23 Jun 2018)
Memorable sporting achievement
Winning gold in LL2 snowboard cross at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing. (Instagram profile, 08 Mar 2022)
Most influential person in career
Physio Claude Lemouzy. (OIS, 04 Mar 2022)
Injuries
At the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing, she crashed during a training run and went to hospital for checks on her knees and shoulder. She went on to win a gold medal at the Games. (OIS, 06 Mar 2022; SportsDeskOnline, 08 Mar 2022)

In January 2020 she broke two vertebrae after slipping on the snow during a training session. She returned to competition less than two months later. (paralympic.org, 29 May 2020)

She dislocated her hip and knee 11 days before she won the LL1 snowboard cross competition at the 2019 World Cup event in La Molina, Spain. (paralympic.org, 05 Mar 2019)

She suffered a shoulder injury in the early part of 2018. (dicodusport.fr, 01 Mar 2018)

She sustained an injury to her left foot in 2017, which prevented her from training for five months. (sans-filtre.fr, 20 Sep 2018; sportdecouverteblog.wordpress.com, 28 Nov 2017; Facebook page, 26 May 2017)
Superstitions / Rituals / Beliefs
She often carries her Paralympic medals with her. "I want them to feel 'alive', so I take them with me almost everywhere. They symbolise my everyday fight. It's the culmination of all those dark years with my illness, all those years of training and the embodiment of all I was able to achieve as a woman and as a mother." (sans-filtre.fr, 20 Sep 2018)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Age is not a number. It's motivation, it's passion, it's training, it's how you can love life – and I know how important life is." (OIS, 04 Mar 2022)
Awards and honours
In 2022 she was named as one of the 40 Most Influential Women of the Year by the business magazine Forbes France. (lindependant.fr, 09 Jul 2022)

In March 2022 she was named Officer of the National Order of Merit in France. (ski-handisport.org, 30 Mar 2022; legiondhonneur.fr, 24 Mar 2022)

In October 2019 she was named Knight of the National Legion of Honour in France. (lindependant.fr, 10 Oct 2019)

In June 2014 she was named Knight of the National Order of Merit in France. (paralympic.org, 10 Nov 2015)
Other sports
She took part in international BMX competitions prior to her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. In 2022, she competed in her first international surfing event in France. (lindependant.fr, 16 Jun 2022; cecilehernandezcervellon.com, 16 Feb 2014)
Milestones
She became the first snowboarder representing France to win a gold medal at the Paralympic Winter Games when she triumphed in women's SB-LL2 snowboard cross at the 2022 Games in Beijing. At the 2014 Games in Sochi, she had become the first snowboarder representing France to win a Paralympic Winter Games medal of any colour when she claimed silver in women's standing snowboard cross. (SportsDeskOnline, 08 Mar 2022)
Impairment
She began experiencing medical issues in 2000 but doctors were unable to identify the problem. Then, two years later, she awoke one morning with paralysis in her legs and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. (sans-filtre.fr, 20 Sep 2018; lequipe.fr, 15 Mar 2016)
Other information
SUPPORT FROM PHYSIO
Doctors told her she would never walk again following her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, but three years later she met Claude Lemouzy, a physiotherapist who Hernandez says changed her life. "One time he looked at me, we were in August, and he said, 'Please, Cecile, believe me. In December, you will walk again'. On the 16th of December 2005, I walked. I don't walk very quickly, very long, or very fast, but I stand on my legs and I stand on my snowboard. He's still my physio now [speaking in 2022]. He helped me to fall pregnant and to be a mum. He's very important in my life. Just before leaving [for the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing], he texted me and said, 'I believe in you. I'm with you. Be strong and stay confident'." (OIS, 04 Mar 2022)

FAST TRACK TO SOCHI
In December 2013 she was introduced to French Para snowboarder Patrice Barratero at an awards ceremony, which inspired her to try the sport. A few days later she received a phone call from the coach of the French national team, and she went on to participate in tests for the team. She was not on the initial list of athletes for the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, but the French federation requested special dispensation for her and she was added to the team for Sochi, where she won a silver medal three months after taking up the sport. "I arrived in Sochi without putting pressure on myself. I was coming out of nowhere, I had not trained much. I arrived with the carefree motivation of a beginner. I did not know anything and I was there just to have fun." (sans-filtre.fr, 20 Sep 2018)

OTHER ACTIVITIES
She has worked as a commentator for the French radio station Europe 1, and as a journalist for French newspaper Le Figaro, for which she covered the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. She has also authored books including 'La Guerre des Nerfs' [The War of Nerves], which focuses on her experiences of living with multiple sclerosis. (topskinews.com, 04 Mar 2021; lindependant.fr, 03 Dec 2020; sans-filtre.fr, 20 Sep 2018; dicodusport.fr, 01 Oct 2017; douane.gouv.fr, 20 Jan 2017)

Results

Unit Date Rank
Paralympic Winter Games 2014 (Sochi, Russia)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's Para Snowboard Cross Standing Final Round 2014-03-14 2
2015 IPCAS Para Snowboard World Championships La Molina (La Molina, Spain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's Snowboard Cross SB-LL1 Race 1 2015-02-24 2
Women's Banked Slalom SB-LL1 Race 1 2015-02-28 1
2017 IPC Snowboard World Championships Big White, CAN (Big White, Canada)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's Snowboard Cross SB-LL1 Race 1 2017-02-04 2
Women's Banked Slalom SB-LL1 Race 1 2017-02-07 2
Pyeongchang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games (Pyeongchang, South Korea)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's Snowboard Cross SB-LL1 Final 2018-03-12 3
Women's Banked Slalom SB-LL1 Final 2018-03-16 2
Pyha 2019 World Para Snowboard Championships (Pyha, Finland)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's Banked Slalom SB-LL1 Race 1 2019-03-27 1
Lillehammer 2021 World Para Snow Sports Championships (Lillehammer, Norway)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's Banked Slalom SB-LL1 Race 2 2022-01-14 2
Women's Snowboard Cross SB-LL1 Race 2 2022-01-21 1
Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games (Beijing, China)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's Snowboard Cross SB-LL2 Quarterfinal 1 2022-03-06 1
Women's Snowboard Cross SB-LL2 Semifinal 1 2022-03-06 1
Women's Snowboard Cross SB-LL2 Big Final 2022-03-06 1
Women's Snowboard Cross SB-LL2 Qualification 2022-03-07 1
Women's Banked Slalom SB-LL2 Final 2022-03-12 6