Sunday evening, Grégory Baugé (36 years old at the end of January), the sprinter with 9 world titles in speed (4 individuals, 5 by teams) announced on the stage of Stage 2 the end of his career.
He explains in detail the reasons for his decision taken a few months before the Tokyo Olympics.
What state of mind are you in after the official announcement of your retirement?
For the past few days, I haven't been in a very good condition.
Publicly announcing my retirement seven months from the Olympic Games is an emotional moment.
I am not someone who is usually stressed out.
But there I was even more stressed than before a World Championships final.
I knew I was going to surprise a lot of people.
The reactions, the messages that I have received warm my heart.
Now that it's done, it's like a relief.
I feel free from a burden.
I will resume a normal life without asking myself the question of what to eat or at what time to go to bed.
Last February, you announced that you would quit after the Tokyo Games.
Is it the postponement that turned everything upside down?
During the first confinement, I went to Guadeloupe.
I was able to breathe and think.
When we were cleared to resume training, I stayed there.
I had good feelings, I was fresh.
There was no one to take too long, but I felt I was going fast.
The training I did on my return to Saint-Quentin en Yvelines confirmed this to me.
The coaches were also happy with me.
I was still hungry so I decided to continue until 2021. With the Federation, we had found a good arrangement.
To avoid travel, I only came once or twice a week to Saint-Quentin.
The rest of the time, I was at Insep.
The coaches told me:
We saw that you were good, we trust you ...
So what happened to make you make this decision?
I thought a lot during the Christmas holidays.
I came to the conclusion that I couldn't come away like this in 2021. The last few weeks I felt there was something wrong.
In training, I was no longer there deep down.
In terms of investment, my sessions were inconclusive.
If it happens over a week, it might be okay, but when it lasts… I've been honest with myself.
I said to myself: “The level is getting higher and higher, you can't pretend to go to the Olympics to win a medal by training only 90%.
This is not my philosophy and conception of high performance sport.
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Was the wear and tear mental or physical with you?
No, the worst part is that I felt good on all levels.
I had no pain, I was motivated by the prospect of ending up in Tokyo.
It was just that I could not press the pedals fully, I was restricted.
It's like a car, you step on the accelerator but you don't feel like you are moving forward… The problem is that a car can be repaired, but not the human body.
To continue in these conditions, it was not worth it for me.
I prefer to stop by leaving a beautiful image.
Some people around you have tried to change your mind?
Yes, I was told, the selection has not yet been made but you will go to the Olympics.
You only have a few months to go… I would answer them: “Yes, I know, but that's how I feel.
At some point, you have to know how to listen to yourself and leave room.
I have never been a sports official.
I can't afford to go to a competition without being fully prepared.
I know I made the best decision possible.
I am not naturally anxious.
But I admit that in recent months, the current climate in France has given me a form of anxiety and disturbed me.
My father and my little sister were affected by this virus at the beginning.
I am the father of a family, now it makes you think ...
When you look back, what are you most proud of?
To have tried somewhere to extend the golden age of the French track, behind the Morelon, Tournant, Rousseau ... I think I have lived up to my glorious elders.
Apart from this Olympic title which I will always miss, I managed to achieve all my goals.
I had the chance to be with great coaches when I started out like Gérard Quintin and Florian Rousseau.
At the start, it was not won because I almost came out of nowhere… When I was little, I dreamed of the Tour de Guadeloupe and of being a pro to compete in the Tour de France.
And I found myself on the trail of Insep.
I realized my abilities, I managed to become someone, sport made me grow socially.
When I arrived, it was not easy.
There weren't 15,000 solutions: it was go or die.
At the time, there weren't many people of color like me.
I think I managed to break down barriers by bringing in different things.
What has always motivated me is to be the best.
I always had this rage in me to show it.
A speed match is a fighting game where you have to be the strongest.
What is the most vivid memory for you?
It's complicated because everything is still fresh.
I don't have much perspective.
Saint-Quentin in 2015 (
Editor's note: gold medal on individual and team speed
), of course because it was in France and many thought that I would not have recovered after 2012 (Editor's note: suspension for lack of localization) .
But my first individual speed title in 2009, in Pruszkow (Poland) will remain special.
I shared it with my father who was present.
He was very important in my career so it was moving to share it with him.
Even if we were dominated by the English, the atmosphere of the London Olympics in 2012, with this overheated audience, also marked me.
You announced your intention to invest in young people.
Is this reconversion project still relevant today?
I will ask myself to think carefully about the rest.
But I want to bring something to young people.
I have already told the sprint group that, although I am less present on a daily basis, I will still be available for them when they call me.
I will keep the same functioning with them as when I was an athlete.
I will be the first supporter of Mathilde Gros, Vigier, Helal ...
Many former champions have become a coach for the French team ...
I am open to everything.
I will discuss with the Federation, the County Council of 94 which has always supported me during my career and my club in Créteil to see what is possible.
I already train several runners like Marie Patouillet who will be doing the Paralympic Games.
I like it a lot so I want to continue on this path.
I love my sport and I don't want to give up on it.