In the program on Tuesday 10 May: three round tables on the place of women at the highest level, new disciplines in the program of the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris 2024 and the reception of athletes before the competition. Saturday, between two appointments, the discussion opened.
At the beginning of April, you were recruited into a sports legend at the National Sports Museum in Nice. You were already the athlete of the century in the French Athletics Federation. How do you feel when you are a legend?
(laughs) If my grandmother was still around, she’d tell me, “The legend is first and foremost a person who doesn’t exist anymore.” Joking aside, it’s an honor, an appreciation. I feel flattered. But what is this?
We ask you the question…
It should inspire those who are late. They can say to themselves: “Anything is possible.”
Would you say that the baton struggles to pass between ex-athletes and youth in France?
For me, my answer is no. With my companion (Sebastian Focras), I have been passing the baton for twenty years as part of the Sports Stars. I, I’m inside, in transmission. When someone is decorated as you are able to be, it is an appreciation, but it must serve the young men who arrive from behind. It’s going too fast, and we’re consuming things quickly. They need an anchor that allows them to say, “If he does it, I can do it too.” The “legend” should be an inspiration.
When you meet young athletes, as you do now regularly in light of Paris 2024, what advice do you give them and what do they ask you first?
It is sharing the experience. I experienced a lot of things, with many different coaches, I learned a lot and I grew. That’s what I’m trying to convey, particularly by supporting the mental functioning that is essential to progress.
You are participating this Tuesday in the Sports and Health Forum at CET. In particular, will it be related to women’s sports? Did you feel any change in this area (salary, wages, TV rights, etc.) between your active time and day?
She is progressing. There was realization. Take the government for example, parity now exists. Things are moving forward, perhaps not as quickly as we would like. Especially in terms of equal pay in sports.
Is equal pay basic?
Not only that. The media should also advance the way women’s sports are talked about. I often had the feeling that we talked about pretty girls before talking about their performances.
Behind your nickname “The Gazelle”, was there gender discrimination?
Unfortunately, I think we were looking primarily at aesthetics before my recordings. However, thirty years later, these records still exist.
During this forum, we will also talk about the upcoming Paris 2024 Games and in particular the arrival of new sports into the program (Break in particular). What inspires you with this development?
You cannot go against society. Our youth are demanding. If we want them to keep moving, exercising, and dreaming, we have to give them what they ask for. This is the meaning of history and our society.
Two and a half years before the start of the Olympics, what does an athlete need the most to prepare for the best?
Money, good training, peace of mind…but he also has to take into account the pressures of competition at home. You have to anticipate this pressure and prepare.
How do you resist this pressure to play at home?
It starts with the ocean. At home, it’s often loved ones who take the pressure off. They think they are doing a good job and quite the opposite. So we should talk about it and take all these kids. And there, we’re a little stuck. We have to speed up all the little points to catch up.
From a personal point of view, what do you expect from this Paris 2024 Games?
Lovely folk festival but also heritage. It can change the way of life of the French, make them want to move, do a little sport, put things in schools and companies …