Lyon (AFP)

Sportsmen, industrialists, researchers ... Too often, worlds that ignore each other but that the former leader of the French rugby team Frédéric Michalak intends to dialogue during his days "Sport Unlimitech".

"Everybody wants to know how tomorrow's sport will be," said the 36-year-old neo businessman, who led the project alongside his television consulting activities.

Already well engaged in his professional reconversion, the former half of scrum or opening goes to the next higher dimension with this event where he hopes more than 10.000 visitors.

At the same time a fair bringing together a hundred exhibitors, a place for debate and a popular celebration around sport, Sport Unlimitech opens Thursday with two professional days, followed by a public day.

All major French research institutes, from Inria to Inserm and CEA, have responded.

A host of athletes or ex-athletes announced their arrival: the swimmer Yannick Agnel, the handball Alexandra Lacrabère or the footballer Eric Abidal and, of course, many rugbymen, Thierry Dusautoir Yannick Nyanga.

From performance to well-being, from the stadium connected to sensor-equipped equipment, from nutrition to health, all the themes of the sport of tomorrow are on the menu of debates.

Like Michalak, other champions in the process of being reconverted will present projects that are close to their hearts: an electro-bodybuilding device for rugby player Vincent Clerc, a video game for rally driver Sébastien Loeb. Handisport fencer Cyril Moret will come to wear the colors of a startup working in the field of sport and disability.

- Difficult months -

For those who know him, this conversion of Frédéric Michalak into a trade show organizer is far from a surprise. Before even joining the LOU to finish his sports career, the player had already laid the foundations of the event by investing in a small company in Toulouse, MyEvents Group.

"We do the same job as GL Events," the event giant who owns the LOU ... "in smaller," concedes Frédéric Michalak, interviewed by AFP.

Unlimitech Sport was "ridden to four" with his partner and childhood friend Nassim Arif and the heads of the small 3rd hour communication company.

But it was necessary to rely on a bigger structure and it is naturally towards Olivier Ginon, the boss of GL Events, that the young entrepreneurs turned.

"Olivier Ginon brought his experience, he gave me the opportunity to move forward with my ideas, while providing human resources," says Michalak.

The mounting of such a heavy operation was not easy. "We knocked on every door," says the ex-rugby player, remembering "eight difficult months", but experienced "200%": when you launch something, you must invest deeply ".

This first meeting, which Michalak hopes to perpetuate on an annual basis, will take place between the Stade de Gerland, now the den of LOU Rugby, and the Palais des Sports facing it.

E-sport will occupy an important place in the event. The Palais des Sports will be fully there during the public day. Frederic Michalak hopes to make it a big popular party.

"We are in entrepreneurs mode, but we want to do things big, while keeping in mind the need for profitability", summarizes the former international, who, within the framework of the LOU, is particularly responsible ... to accompany the players in the preparation of their reconversion.

© 2019 AFP