On May 15, Antoine Le Bigaut returned to his native Morbihan with an Olympic silver medal around his neck. Olympic Games in May 2022? These were certainly less publicized, but the footballer from Pontivy went to Brazil to participate in the Deaflympics, derived from the Olympics reserved for the deaf and hard of hearing.
Deeply deaf from birth, he has always played football in valid clubs, with some adaptations. “I have to be in front of the coach to understand the instructions. “However, the Breton is perfectly integrated into his group, in R2 with the Pontivyen Stadium. He even carries out training with the N3. “I think it’s essential to evolve in valid. The level is totally different”, estimates the one who also has a license to play with the deaf team of CSSM Paris, with which he is European champion.
Reconciliation with the FFH in 2008
In reality, however, they are few deaf to play sports. “You have to distinguish between the deaf and the hard of hearing,” says Sébastien Messager, head of deaf sport at the French Handisport Federation. Deaf culture is a very strong culture, with a community. The problem is that the large deaf associations often do not have a sports section. »
Until 2008, deaf sport also had its own Federation, as did its international competition, which has existed for longer than the Paralympic Games. And the rapprochement between the French Handisport Federation and the Sports Federation of the Deaf in France did not go very well at first. “They arrived a little constrained, and we were not given the means, neither human nor financial”, regrets Sébastien Messager.
Raise awareness of the disabled sports sector
So, today, great means must be deployed to make them aware of the Handisport Federation, and therefore access to international competitions, for deaf and hard of hearing people. “We even have some who have valid high-level courses and who have never heard of disabled sport. »
Athletes often don’t want to be put in a box. “I consider myself able-bodied and disabled,” admits Antoine Le Bigaut, very proud to be able to wear the jersey of the France team.
In this in-between where no one seems to decide for one side or the other, the question arises about the integration, one day, in the Paralympic Games
. “It would be good to have more financial and media resources, but it’s also good to have separate Games”, rejoices Antoine Le Bigaut. “After the Deaflympics, they said to each other that they were Olympic champions. It demonstrates the power of this competition,” recalls Sébastien Messager.
At the beginning of July, the medalists will be received by the Minister of Sports, a first for deaf athletes. A step towards greater recognition?
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