They dreamed of being in party at the Tokyo Games from July 24 to August 9, 2020. It will finally be for next year. Release had started to follow four sportsmen in full preparation: Quentin Bigot, madman hammer athlete, Michaël Guigou, adventurer of the hand courts, Marie Oteiza, discreet pentathlete, and Ysaora Thibus, thin blade. For these four, the main thing was to participate in the Olympic Games. And if possible to shine. We had left Ysaora Thibus in Bourg-la-Reine, to teach her science to the children of the club where she is licensed since her arrival in France.
“After Bourg-la-Reine (read the last episode), we went to the United States for the grand prize which was to take place on March 14 in Anaheim (California). We trained for two weeks in Los Angeles. Some teams have arrived. Not the Italians, already confined, nor the Russians. A few days before, we were informed that the event would take place behind closed doors. And the day before it was canceled. I was with Race [son compagnon américain, également escrimeur, ndlr] at Maurizio [son préparateur physique], Stefano [son entraîneur] returned to Italy. The teams have been repatriated. I wondered if I was going back with the French women. The confinement in France would have prevented me from training. I stayed.
“It was the last tournament before the Olympics [Ysaora Thibus était déjà qualifiée]. After the cancellation, we were expecting. We followed the news in all languages. Containment was declared in Los Angeles on March 19. Since then, we’ve continued to train physically. We built the garage. But that has nothing to do with what you could do in a real room. For the moment, California and New York, the epicenter of the contagion, are confined. I do not think we will get out of it quickly, contrary to what Trump said, who announced the date of April 12.
Ysaora Thibus and Race, California. (Photo DR)
“This postponement, I was favorable to it”
“I never stop for more than two or three weeks a year after a big event. The last long break was after the Rio Games, I had cut two months, but I did not have the anxiety of emptiness: I had my studies and my thesis to finish. This forced break is completely different from anything I have experienced. There are many doubts and questions related to the rest of the season and the postponement of the Games.
“This postponement, I was favorable to it. After the announcement, I lost my motivation a bit, I had trouble projecting myself. Since the start of the crisis, I considered the Games to be secondary. I didn’t understand why we should keep them when people are dying all over the epidemic. There are other issues besides sport. And one wonders: would sporting fairness have been respected in Tokyo knowing that not all athletes could have prepared in the same way? The postponement was really the right decision. The Games are really the ultimate goal for athletes. We wait for them for four years, we can wait for another year. If they take place before the summer of 2021, as planned, it gives us time to refocus. And this is one more year to train.
“I made a lot of sacrifices to carry out my project [en se coupant de la structure fédérale française pour monter sa propre équipe avec son compagnon]. I do not know how we are going to organize ourselves now, if I will have the financial means to continue, knowing that our base camp was in Italy. Now, we await details from the International Federation on the new calendar and qualification rules.
Ysaora Thibus and Race, California. (Photo DR)
“We are not the most to complain about, we put things into perspective”
“Since containment has been established, Race continues to do its physical preparation. Me, I have a little more trouble. I like to have competition and performance goals to train; there it’s a little more complicated. I do more physical maintenance than real training. So I discover something else. I take online English writing lessons. I read ; currently it is Americana by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. There is Netflix of course. We would like to take online cooking lessons. In normal times, we make minimalist meals after training, there is no time to prepare elaborate dishes. When you travel for the competition, you visit the museums. Now we do it online. I started to meditate too. But my real challenge right now is to convert Race to Tik-Tok.
“Are athletes better equipped to deal with situations like the ones we know? I do not know. It’s really a question of personality. Let’s say we’re probably more used to dealing with anxiety, uncomfortable situations. In normal times, we have very precise schedules, we live at 100 an hour. Of course that changes there. My therapist advised me to start a routine, with specific daily appointments. The episode imposed a moment of introspection, of reflection. On social networks, we educate others on the importance of respecting confinement. With Race, you don’t feel like you’re making sacrifices: you don’t have kids, you don’t telecommute, you aren’t the most to complain about. We put things into perspective.
“I wondered if I was going back to Guadeloupe. But since I live there with my grandmother, I didn’t want to take any risks. I follow the situation there: there are currently around sixty cases, some of which are in intensive care. My mother works in a clinic, she manages the stocks. It should not be forgotten that the Pointe-à-Pitre hospital burned down two years ago. It’s a little scary. ”
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Gilles Dhers (Photos DR)