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Ysaora Thibus: "In one year, I learned a lot about myself"


Vice-world champion in 2018, the French foil player talks to Le Figaro about her ambition in Tokyo, and how she managed the long period without competition that touched fencing to the heart.

Ysaora, you will have had to wait a long time for these Tokyo Games…

Ysaora Thibus:

(smile) Yes, it's true that we had to be patient with this postponement year.

But there, I'm happy to be there and to feel good.

My preparation went well.

To discover

  • The Olympic medal table

  • LIVE - Watch the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Do you think this year of postponement has been beneficial to you?

Stronger, I don't know, but necessarily different.

I learned a lot during this very special period.

It asked me a lot of adaptation, of questioning.

Solutions had to be found despite adversity, despite complicated training and preparation situations.

I learned a lot about myself, about what I was able to achieve.

Afterwards, in my fencing, this period gave me more time to put things in place and to review others that I had tended to leave aside previously.

So to sum up, I'm an athlete who was able to train for a year longer (smile).

Maintaining the same energy to stay the course in training was not easy.

Ysaora Thibus

Did you experience moments of doubt during this long period without official competition?

Yes, I have had moments of loss of motivation. Especially at the beginning when there was the announcement of the postponement and we had no idea where we were going. At that moment, you put a lot of things in perspective, too much probably, because you no longer have the major objective that animated you. In addition, in fencing, we had a one-year gap without any official competition. It has been a long period of inactivity, with many ups and downs. Especially since at the start of the health crisis, I was in the United States where it was really complicated to train. Afterwards, I returned to Paris and I was able to set up a more regular activity. But all of this inevitably gave rise to doubts at times. Conserve the same energy to stay on course during trainingwas not easy. That's why I said I learned a lot about myself too.

How did you manage to dispel these doubts? Did you lean on your companion (the American fencer Race Imboden) who was going through the same thing as you?

I think there were several things. What was most important was having my loved ones by my side at key moments. Their support when I was in doubt or when my motivation waned was fundamental. I was also followed by Meriem Salmi, my psychologist from the start. She was constantly there during this period to answer my questions. She was very helpful. Mentally, I think it was the hardest period to manage for me, but also for many athletes who found themselves without competition, without benchmarks. There was also Maguy Nestoret from the National Sports Agency (ANS) who helped me put in place a preparation plan for six months of these games because in this period, the most complicated was often to move.There was my Federation which accepted that I set up a hybrid project between Insep and Italy (its trainer is Italian). And finally, there was my family in Guadeloupe, where I went to recharge my batteries, and my companion, even if it was difficult to manage because he remained in the United States while I was in Paris. That's a lot of people who have supported me and who believe in me, in my project to be an Olympic champion.have supported and who believe in me, in my project to be an Olympic champion.have supported and who believe in me, in my project to be an Olympic champion.

You have also launched

a media platform on Instagram, EssentiElles

. Was it important for you at this time to clear your mind and do something else?

Certainly yes.

I needed to take a step back from fencing, which is a sport of adversity.

Except that we could not go into a room, nor be in front of an opponent.

Training alone was difficult.

So I took the opportunity to ask myself what I had wanted to do for a long time, and that I had not had time to achieve.

I suddenly created this platform which corresponded to my values, to my convictions.

It highlights the profiles of sportswomen, and I am proud of what that gives.

It allowed me to clear my mind, to build myself as a woman and to nurture a personal goal.

We forget that behind any champion, there are sometimes difficult times to go through.

Ysaora Thibus

By talking to champions from other disciplines, have you learned anything?

Yes a lot. The basic concept was to discuss between high-level sportswomen about what we experienced in sport, in an often very masculine environment. I had really exciting discussions on a wide variety of topics, like with Estelle Mossely (boxing) about being a mother and an athlete. Or with Sandrine Gruda (basketball) with whom we discussed the difficulty of bouncing back after a failure or an injury. I could cite many other examples that have enriched me on a human level, and I hope also those who have watched them. In addition, in this context, we were very isolated and it allowed us to stay connected to each other, to talk about these difficult times. There is this concept of the athlete who must always be perfect, very motivated,win and we forget that behind any champion, there are sometimes difficult times to go through. I wanted to touch that aspect with my finger.

Reassure me, hasn't all this quenched your thirst for gold?

(Laughs) No, I even think it's complementary. I was in America when the Black Lives Matter movement took off and I also had the opportunity to do some important personal soul-searching as a woman. And now I know why I'm doing all this, why I keep training and ultimately, why winning gold at the Games is so important to me.

Source: lefigaro

All sports articles on 2021-07-24

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