2020, Olympic year. They dream of partying at the Tokyo Games from July 24 to August 9. For a consecration, a revenge, a lap of honor, a redemption. Throughout this year which will end for them and them in tears of joy, pain or disappointment, Liberation follows four athletes in full preparation: Quentin Bigot, crazy hammer athlete, Michaël Guigou, adventurer of handball courts , Marie Oteiza, discreet pentathlete, and Ysaora Thibus, thin blade. For these four, the main thing will be to participate in the Olympic Games. And if possible to shine.
From Rio to Tokyo, an olympiad and a new life for Ysaora Thibus. At the Brazilian Olympic Games, the foilist, a podium candidate, finished “only” fifth after a two point loss in the quarterfinals. “It caused a questioning. I wondered if I had really given myself all the means to succeed. I wanted to know what it would be like if I was 100% dedicated to fencing. " In Rio, Ysaora Thibus did not win a medal but hooked a lover. Race Imboden, American, one of the best florists in the world. The following year, she followed him to Los Angeles. For her, the road from California to Japan passed this weekend through Saint-Maur-des-Fossés (Val-de-Marne), during a stage of the World Cup a bit disappointing: 6e individually and 5e by teams while in Cairo, for the opening of the season, she had finished twice 3e. "For all athletes, the pre-Olympic year is very special, recognizes the fencer. This is my third qualification campaign for the Olympic Games, I am more mature, more serene and more experienced. But I know when the litmus tests are coming, I will be nervous. ”
"Super happy when I won, collapsed when I lost"
Before Rio, Paris, Los Angeles and perhaps Tokyo, there was the Abymes (Guadeloupe), where Ysaora Thibus was born on August 22, 1991. This is where it all started. Almost by chance, as in many sports careers. "I started ballet dancing when I was 4 years old. My mom wanted to put my brother in fencing. Once I accompanied him. I was offered to try. I hooked up right away. My brother stopped, I continued. I’ve always had a competitive spirit. I took fencing very seriously, I was super happy when I won, collapsed when I lost. " Ysaora Thibus started fencing at the age when we can have idols and when we want to imitate them. It could have been Laura Flessel, Guadeloupe like her. But unlike the Wasp, Ysaora Thibus does not convert to the sword. She remains faithful to the initiation weapon of all fencers. "I was good with this weapon, I didn't want to change it. I am more cerebral, the foil suited me better. But I’m also very generous and impatient in my fencing, I need to move. With the sword, we are no longer waiting. "
Ysaora Thibus during a warm-up session at Insep on Wednesday. Photo Martin Colombet for Liberation
Not too boring fencing for a kid? "It is true that the French school is very technical. From childhood, you have to be part of a somewhat intellectual system. But fencing is also a super fun sport. No key is the same as another. An assault is like a game of chess where the pieces move all the time and where you play while pedaling. Boring? This is the last term I would use to talk about my sport. "
Fencing doesn't feed
Ysaora Thibus cleans up Guadeloupe fencing. She is 17 and over an opponent of her level on her native island. "The federation put a little pressure on me on the theme:" If you do not take the leap to come to metropolitan France you are jeopardizing your career. " I wanted to be the best, I left when I was 17. I had no family in mainland France, I could not afford to return to Guadeloupe. I spent my vacation alone at the Aix-en-Provence hopes pole. Anyway, if it hadn't been for fencing, I intended to come to France for my higher education. I had the ambition to join the Insep. I entered it when I was 18, still a junior. I didn’t want to wait in Aix. Always my impatience. "
In addition to her training at the National Sports Institute for Expertise and Performance – the ENA for French Sport -, she completed a bachelor's degree in economics at the Sorbonne and then a master's degree in management at the Ecole supérieure de commerce from Paris. "It was racing all the time. I had classes until 4 p.m. in XIe district of Paris. I left a quarter of an hour before the end, I arrived at the Insep when everyone was already dressed and warmed up. " In 2013, the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences awarded him a prize which rewards a high-level sportsman combining competition and higher education. "When I turn around, I tell myself that it was a challenge to reconcile, she judges today. It was a double investment, a period which proved to me that I was capable of doing things of high level. " She currently holds a master's degree in innovation marketing. In 2016, she launched an online kitty to finance her Olympic campaign. "I asked for 2,000 euros, it was mostly a symbolic gesture." To show that fencing does not feed his fighter. "We don't touch money in competition, except at the Worlds. I wanted to emphasize it. ”
"Getting out of my comfort zone"
After the slap of the 2016 Olympics, it takes off. No more comfort at Insep, where she spent eight years. Direction the United States. “I saw my opponents, especially the Italians. They had a job in the customs or the police but trained full time. I decided to become a professional in amateur sport. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. I did not get angry and I am very grateful to the federation. My decision scared him a little. She feared that others would follow my path. So I had the pressure to succeed since I had left the system. I doubted my choice especially since at the beginning, I didn't have too many results. I did catastrophic European Championships in 2018. I felt like I was no longer at the level. And finally I became vice-world champion in 2018. Today, the federation has really integrated my way of working. "
Today Ysaora Thibus, 6e World florist, lives between Los Angeles, Italy, the country of his trainer, and France. She is her own boss. "I am independent, I choose my internships, decide on my calendar, I am independent, I take my plane tickets, I pay my coach, my physical trainer." How? “My boyfriend is also a model. I shot a few spots with him in the United States. And I approach sponsors. Last week, I was accepted into the French games team, it's a real relief. Otherwise, I am supported by Garnier, Adidas and a brand of Guadeloupe mineral water. But in the United States, there is zero social coverage. I have to get treatment in Italy or in France. ” Fortunately, Ysaora Thibus has never known big physical glitches. She notably escaped the rupture of the cruciate ligaments, the anxiety of the fencers, who are particularly exposed to it because of perpetual changes of direction on the track. But she collects small sores. "I have shin edema, my ankle is blocked. You have to know how to deal with pain. We are always on the verge of injury. Sport is a bit of autoflagellation. "
Gilles Dhers photos Martin Colombet
. (tagsToTranslate) Fencing (t) Ysaora Thibus (t) Guadeloupe (t) United States (t) INSEP (t) France (t) Los Angeles (t) Metropolitan France (t) Italy (t) Tokyo (t) Games olympics