Smaali Bouaabid, médaillé aux Jeux paralympiques, rejoint le Vierzon-Vignoux-Foëcy Athlé

Smaali Bouaabid, medalist at the Paralympic Games, joins the Vierzon-Vignoux-Foëcy Athlé

“When I arrived in France, in Paris, in 2018, I looked for a club, without finding one. Then I joined my partner in Mehun, two years later. Tours and Châteauroux offered to welcome me, I chose Châteauroux, closer. I stayed there for seven or eight months, but that was too far. I contacted the Vierzon club who told me that I was welcome. I got in touch with Fred (Frédéric Dougé, Editor’s note), my coach, and the president. They adapted to accommodate a disabled athlete and I’m here (to smile). »

his beginnings

“I started athletics in 2014. A national coach had seen me on the equivalent for you, in France, of a funfair. He had noticed that I jumped well, that I was active. He had asked me if I knew athletics, shot put, and he suggested that I come with them. I told him I was going to think about it. He insisted. I did a 30 minute session and I didn’t want to leave them. We were a family. There were no differences. He’s tall, he’s short, he doesn’t run fast, he’s in a wheelchair, it doesn’t matter. I had my friends. We had a good laugh. There were only champions and I wanted to be like them. I saw that the journalists were talking with them, all that. I wanted to be a star. I stayed. »

The medal at the Games

“I remember the podium. I was looking up there, I was crying all alone. I didn’t know if I was happy, if I was sad. I think I was very happy. I was thinking of my parents, they pushed me a lot. They told me: “I know you can do it, don’t worry”. I lived far from the stadium, my mother gave me money to pay for the taxi so that I could go to train. I was working as a waiter and I was getting used to making money and athletics didn’t bring me anything. It even cost me money so I didn’t want to go. My coach said to my parents: “you don’t let him sleep in the morning, he has to go to the stadium”. My mom used to tell me, “I know you’ll get there. Stop work and go to the sport.” Every morning, she urged me to go there. When they gave me my medal, I immediately thought of them. I said to my mother: “thank you very much, you pushed me well, which allowed me to go far”. My coach also helped me a lot. »

the after

“In 2017, I did the world championships in London. Unfortunately, I came fifth. I was alone, my trainer was not there. Usually, he came to every competition, every camp, all the time. I was lost, not concentrated and I only finished fifth. After 2017, I quit. I was not well paid by the Tunisian Federation. I made a visa and I left for France. I did not speak French (he masters it very well today, editor’s note). I asked for help, but this person had difficulty explaining the specifics of my practice. And then once I started to speak French, I found it on my own. So I only resumed for a short year. »

Paris 2024

“My dream is to join the France team, to represent France. There are the world championships in France in 2023 and then the Paralympic Games in Paris the year after. I want to relive what I experienced in Rio. When we have tasted the podium, we want it to start again. I’m not giving up to taste it again. During the Games, when I was fourth before my last try, I threw 9.44m. Saturday (during the French championships held in Nantes, editor’s note), I hope to do more than 10 meters. I managed to do it in training. I train hard, more than the able-bodied. I progressed on the loads that I lift in bodybuilding. I think if we continue to work well with Fred, we can go even further. »

Interview by Ludovic Aurégan

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