In sport, as in other fields, it is not always easy to be the son or daughter of.
Being called Zidane or Richardson, for example, can open doors at first, but very quickly this positive aspect disappears to give way to often disproportionate pressure.
As if the offspring were bound to overtake the progenitor.
A question of genetics, no doubt, for some.
Except that sport has never been a science, let alone exact.
And its history is paved with painful family destinies.
Which, fortunately, is not the case with Magda Wiet Henin.
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Valérie Henin, the benchmark of the rings in the 1990s
Her mother, Valérie, was the French benchmark in boxing rings during the 1990s with, in particular, her two world titles in kick-boxing (1990 and 1994), but also those won in full contact (1993) and in English boxing (1996). ). Before ending her career in another discipline, taekwondo, where she won three French championship titles (from 1999 to 2001) and a third European place in 2000. Difficult to do better, and more eclectic. Born on August 31, 1995, Magda will only have known her mother's taekwondo period. And yet, she was so young that today, she confesses that she has no memory of the fights, and of the successes, of Valérie. However, it is towards this sport that, a few years later, she would go. "
I was undoubtedly unconsciously inspired by her, as many little girls do with their mothers,
Because of her sporting career, I too envisioned myself wanting to become a champion.
Read also: The full Tokyo 2020 program
Read also: The Tokyo 2020 medal table
A choice quickly paid off since she became champion of France in the category of youngest (10 years). Nevertheless, with the strength of her experience, Valérie takes great care to ensure that everything does not go too quickly for her child. “
I always made my own choices,
” she recalls. “
The only time she really intervened was when I had to join the France team at 13 or 14 and she felt it was a little too early. She preferred that I take my time to grow up. At 15, she told me to go for it because she considered me mature enough to take on.
“And here again, the decision proved to be successful when at 17, the Nancy girl became junior world champion under 59kg.
Already with an Olympic ambition in mind.
In Rio, however, she must be content with the role of replacement for Haby Niaré, future silver medalist.
But she uses this experience to learn, and to be ready in Tokyo four years later.
French taekwondo in search of its first gold
Four years became five due to the pandemic and the postponement of the Games, for which she snatched her ticket by winning the European qualifying tournament on May 7. A simple step for her, which aims higher. “
The ambition, as in every event, is to go for the best medal. Ever since I was little, I have dreamed of Olympic gold. Now, if I can't do it but I get on the podium, it will already be a real satisfaction. But the additional challenge is to bring back the gold, especially since it would be a first for French taekwondo.
“A discipline that provides medals indeed - from Pascal Gentil to Haby Niaré via Myriam Baverel, Gwladys Epangue, Marlène Harnois and Anne-Sophie Graffe - but never the most beautiful metal.
Bronze medalist at the 2019 World Championships, Magda Wiet Henin has the potential.
It remains to manage the absence of his mother in the Japanese capital due to health restrictions.
Today, my mother is my pillar, a source of motivation and comfort.
Magda Wiet Henin
An absence that she tries to put into perspective. “
I have a very close relationship with my mother and we planned for her to be there with me. Now, that will not be possible but that must not jeopardize all the quality of the work that I have provided for years. It's a shame, but it doesn't matter.
This does not detract, however, from the importance that Valérie has in her daughter's career. “
Today, my mother is my pillar, a source of motivation and comfort. She knows how to adapt to my desires, my needs. When I'm not well, she knows not to talk about sport and we share a good meal to discuss other subject. Conversely, sometimesshe knows how to move me when she thinks I'm letting myself go a little too much. She is multitasking.
And the young woman continues: “It's been about three years since I asked her to come with me on competitions.
In these moments, with her past as a high level athlete, she knows how to behave, what to say to me.
It's silly too, but she knows how to stretch me, massage me after a fight.
She knows how to use her own experience to help me perform.
She is a "
who understands me and supports me in my sporting project. "
A presence that does not however interfere in his relationship with the staff of the France team: "
She only comes to a competition if I ask her, she never wins.
The staff understands my sporting project and my mother knows how to be discreet when necessary.
It is the advantage of having a mother who has experienced high level competitions.
When she sees me entering into a discussion with my trainer, she never intervenes.
When we talk about strategy, it sidesteps.
It fits perfectly and there was no problem.
I took inspiration from her, but I didn't see myself competing with her, in the sense of having to do better.
Magda Wiet Henin
As a preamble, we mentioned the difficulty, in many cases, of having one or more parents who were former champions.
A problem that Magda does not understand when she says: "
I get asked this question a lot and I find it weird because I feel like this is a bit of an unhealthy competition. In any case, I have always lived it well. I took inspiration from her, but I didn't see myself competing with her, in the sense of having to do better. What she achieved is hers, and what I do today is mine. I have no pressure from what she did. The past for me is the past and I am focused on the present and the future. Besides, I admit that when I get a good medal, I always want her to be there, to see me performing well. I made a lot of sacrifices leaving home at 15 and I want her to see that I don'tdid not do it all for nothing. And neither did she, because my career takes a very important place in her life.
“Hence the interest in putting gold there on Monday.