“Taekwondo helped me to snowboard”

You are back in France with a gold medal, what is the feeling that dominates?

“Right now, it’s really the feeling of accomplishment. I can finally put aside all these years of work and sacrifice to fully savor everything that will be offered to me. Even responding to the media, for me, is really something out of the ordinary. Even compared to a world champion title, there we continue to increase the sensations. As soon as I arrived after my race, I experienced an incredible wave of love. »

In China you were a bit isolated from the world. Did you manage to feel at the Games, where the health bubble took over?

“The health bubble was very restrictive, it is true. It was exhausting. After all, we had pretty crazy infrastructures, the courses were pretty excessive compared to what we’re used to riding, and all of that helped us feel at the Games. Sanitary limitations have tended above all to block the festive effect that could be expected from an event of this type. »

If you had to remember a single moment from these Games, what would it be?

“It is the moment when my last rival crosses the line and I see that he has not done better than me. There an enormous relaxation invades me that makes me cry like a cupcake. It’s something I’ve never felt before and it’s really nice. »

Before you were crowned Paralympic slalom champion, you had a disappointment in snowboardcross. How did you manage to get back in the saddle?

“Snowboardcross was definitely a disappointment, yes, because I had the ambition to win back two medals. It was very hard to get eliminated in the fourth of the photo finish, because when I was going back to my direct competitor, I thought I had passed him before the line. I was quite serene and when I saw the photo finish I thought it was a nightmare. So at the time I was very angry with myself. And then, watching the race on video, I told myself that despite a mistake at the top of the course, he still hadn’t run too badly and the Japanese he was racing with hadn’t run very well. he had managed to descend faster than me. So I told myself that there might have been a slippage problem and that helped me feel guilty. »

Before snowboarding, you had a career in taekwondo. How do we get from one to the other?

“In fact, I was part of the first French para-taekwondo team. I had the opportunity to perform in 2013 at the world championships in Lausanne, finishing third. And unfortunately, I don’t know why, the federation never considered me from there. I was not given any news for the following competitions, and that was a shock to me. I wondered how a federation could treat its athletes so badly, especially since I had just had my best result. So after that you shouldn’t talk to me about taekwondo anymore. But today I tell myself that maybe it was finally a sign of life, because the winter that followed, I met people who were part of the French para-snowboard executives and they encouraged me to go try it. I had already snowboarded for pleasure, but I didn’t even know it existed in handicap sports. Today I really don’t regret getting started, and maybe I should even thank the taekwondo federation for cowardly abandoning me (laughs). Especially since it all happened super fast afterwards. I was world champion just two years after my first snowboard race. It was incredible. »

Does taekwondo help you with snowboarding?

“There are more similarities than you think. These are already asymmetrical sports, where one is in profile. Both are explosive sports. So, in the end, the basic work that I had done for taekwondo also served me well. And then I would also say that taekwondo taught me about confrontation, and that’s also something you find in snowboardcross. »

How do you see the continuation of your career?

“I’m going to take a break from the snowboarding world for a few months to savor and take advantage of this medal. But this feeling I had when I found out I was Paralympic champion is something I want to find again. It is something that is only experienced in these types of events. We are lucky that it is happening next to the house in Cortina in 2026, and all this sharing with my loved ones that we couldn’t have in Beijing, I really want to take advantage of it in four years. This is really what will fuel my motivation.

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