“You have to burn! But it can be a great adventure!”, Promises Abel Aber, a paracanoe-kayak practitioner to young all-eared parasports during a day of detection of future champions on Saturday at Insep.
500 days before the Paralympic Games in Paris, the “The next generation” program has settled for two days in the temple of French high level. This is its fourth edition.
Some 25 budding para-athletes, pre-selected beforehand, are there to test their physical abilities under the gaze of federation representatives who have come to spot the champions of tomorrow.
“That’s a lot of armchairs!” Laughingly slips a participant, also in an armchair, who tries to sneak in, red chasuble flocked to his name, in the entrance to the main hall of Insep.
History of reducing stress, the Sports Director of the French Paralympic and Sports Committee (CPSF), Jean Minier, warns by opening the day: “we are not going to ask you to break the world record!”.
Because the idea, adds the boss of the CPSF Marie-Amélie Le Fur, is above all to “guide” them. And the three-time Paralympic athletics champion is delighted that for the first time this year they can test the sports.
– “Explore other sports” –
The link will not be exhausted at the end of the weekend, “we will reconnect with them” and “advise them”, she explains to AFP. For the Paris Games, there is little time left, the course is rather set for the Winter Games of 2026 or the Summer of 2028.
Sofiane, from Blanc-Mesnil (Seine-Saint-Denis), 30 years old on the clock, has been practicing para-badminton for a year and a half, but has to travel an hour and a quarter, with his wheelchair, to join training.
So he came “to test and explore other sports”. At his side, Clément, also 30, is still in rehabilitation, nine months after his “accident”, which leaves him standing but walking with difficulty. A fan of running, he “can no longer run” and wants to try out several sports.
Like Corentin, 24, from La Rochelle, eager to try wheelchair tennis, or Lucie, 19, who sees herself doing paratriathlon.
Before testing new sports, everyone submits to aptitude tests: ball throwing, balance test, short run or aiming for a small square glued to the wall. For Vincent Hybois, “head coach” of archery, this precision test is one of those that interests him the most.
His discipline has only “two categories”, much less than athletics for example, so few are chosen at the end, even if many people can practice. It is a question of finding one’s way in the maze of “classifications”: the multiple categories, defined according to the handicaps, which differ according to the parasports.
“From the moment you join Paralympism, you accept the classifications, it’s as if you were criticizing refereeing in football”, warns Oriane Lopez, doctor member of the CPSF medical committee and former paraathlete. .
– “Battle” –
But before reaching the very high level, all tell of their fight to practice: between the kilometers swallowed to find a center where to train, or the logistical difficulties, as for Sami, double amputee, the essential presence of his wife for put his boat in the water.
“You have to fight, it’s not rosy”, recognizes Abel Aber, who came from boxing and detected in 2019 during the first edition of “La Relève”, which is climbing the ranks of his discipline, the canoe canoe.
At the edge of the Insep swimming pool, Koen Van Landeghem, para-swimming coach, gives first advice, under the eyes of Anne Barrois, Deputy Director General of Insep, also impressed by the breaststrokes and the crawl of two young men, each of whom had a leg amputated.
Meanwhile, in a gymnasium, in ambush: the French Climbing Federation.
If she is not yet a Paralympic discipline, she intends to be for Los Angeles 2028 and is not sparing her efforts. “We lack athletes!”, Launches Hélène Le Rouge, ready to recruit goodwill, to shine in this “fashionable” sport.