By Marine Lemesle
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A golden passion. In 2016, at the Rio Games, Yannick Ifebe was crowned team epee champion with Romain Noble and Robert Citerne. The 31-year-old athlete today does not intend to stop there. He wants to end his career in style by participating in the Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024 (August 28 to September 8). And in taking first place in his discipline. News Paris was able to meet him before one of his training sessions at the sports circle of the national institution of the Invalides (CSINI), in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. The champion returned to his career.
Wield the sword like in “Zorro”
At the age of 3 months, Yannick Ifebe suffered an irreversible medical error. While being operated on for a hernia, the anesthesiologist uses the wrong medication. The baby becomes paraplegic. Following this accident, he was treated in a specialized center. There, the child discovers fencing. A revelation. Wielding a sword allows Yannick Ifebe to immerse himself in the film Zorro or even in the “Star Wars” saga.
Since the age of 6, he has practiced fencing daily: “It’s a rather complete sport mixing speed, rapidity, but also reflection”, he explains.
A need to let off steam
His love for the discipline does not diminish with the years. Yannick Ifebe needs to let off steam. In parallel with his law studies, he continued training. A little too much to the taste of his parents, who ask him to stay diligent in his studies, if he wants to pursue his sporting career.
“Ideally, I wanted to play sports. The rest, we would see later.”
Yannick Ifebe decides to take part in a few competitions. Because training without doing it would leave him with “a taste of unfinished business”. He made appearances on a national scale, then on a European scale. His career really started in 2014. He joined the French wheelchair fencing team at the European Championships in Strasbourg. Sufficient scores for him to be spotted.
At that time, the athlete was faced with a far from obvious choice: to go to Hong Kong to pursue his master’s degree or to participate in the Paralympic Games in Rio. The second option wins.
These first Paralympic Games represent “the holy grail”, ” an unforgettable experience “. “Go to the Olympics, it’s really the apotheosis of a career,” he says.
Finishing your career “at home”
Yannick Ifebe is however not guaranteed to participate in those of 2024. He is still in the qualification phase. His scores will be paramount to whether he will compete. He won’t have the answer for a few months.
So the athlete, who has worked since September 2022 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, trains daily, despite this back injury which forced him to interrupt his training for several weeks.
His goal : the first place. For him, these would be his last Paralympic Games. An end all the more memorable as he would end his career “at home”.
Highlight accessibility issues in transport
Yannick Ifebe notices that the Paralympic Games are starting to get more and more media coverage. He hopes that the event organized in Paris will highlight the problems of accessibility for people with disabilities.
“There are a lot of problems in public transport. In the metro, only line 14 is adapted. The others are not at all, and that lengthens my travel time. hope that, with these Olympics, it will make it easier to travel, mine and those of other disabled people.”
In the meantime, Yannick Ifebe trains tirelessly and confides with a smile that, to win gold, he will have to be more rigorous in his preparation to let himself be less distracted…
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