The second line of Castres Christophe Samson against Racing 92 in the European Rugby Cup, December 16, 2017. - Christophe Simon / AFP
- Because of the coronavirus epidemic, the championships are frozen, and competitions like the Euro football or the Tokyo Olympics postponed.
- Some athletes who had planned to retire at the end of the season may have already played their last match or competition. Others will extend their careers.
- This unprecedented situation disrupts even the career of younger athletes, like the boxer Sofiane Oumiha.
Despite the difficult situation, the second line of Castres Olympique Christophe Samson leaves a joke, on the phone: "I should have told myself that I was playing my last match on March 1 in Bordeaux. »Impossible to guess, for the 36-year-old rugby player as for anyone else on Earth, that almost all of world sport would be stopped, for an indefinite period, because of the current epidemic of coronavirus. And that, consequently, his end of career was likely to be brought forward by a few weeks.
"To be polite, it pisses off," picks up the international with five selections, triple champion of France with Clermont (2010) and the OC (2013, 2018). I would have liked to play Pierre-Fabre (the Castres stadium) a few more times. Even if today, rugby takes second place with this epidemic. "
However, there is no question of postponing retirement, even if the Top 14 2019-2020 should not resume. "I am lucky to have chosen my stop, I have two or three retraining ideas at home", in Auvergne, says Samson. His teammate at CO Rodrigo Capo Ortega (39) will also fold his arms as expected, like another great former, this time in football, the Dijonnais Florent Balmont (40). Probably without being entitled to a last lap of honor in front of their supporters.
"There is only to undergo"
Is it serious doctor ? "I don't think it can constitute a trauma," assesses sports psychologist Jean-Paul Labedade. There may be a little bitterness. But it's something that nobody has control over. You just have to endure ... Time erases a lot. "
Time precisely, some seek to challenge it. Without even mentioning the Montpellier Hilton, the Highlander of Ligue 1 still green at 42, veteran athletes have decided to stack up to really choose their end. This is the case of the handball players of the Blues Luc Abalo (35 years old) or Michaël Guigou (38 years old).
PSG handball: "I'm going back on my decision to stop", announces Luc Abalo https://t.co/jsQdW8x0bp via @le_Parisien- Benoît Lallement (@benlallement) March 17, 2020
"I saw myself stopped in August having done a full season, having given everything on this double project [club and team of France]", dropped on beIN Sports the left wing Nîmes, frustrated by the fiasco of last Euro, in January. Guigou thought he would end up at the last Olympic Games in Tokyo, which had been postponed for a year (July 23-August 8, 2021) because of the Covid-19. “It shifts things a few months, it's not much, says the double Olympic champion and quadruple world champion. I take advantage of this time to recharge my batteries. I am more motivated than ever. "
Oumiha, the upset plan
For Sofiane Oumiha (only 25 years old), there was no question of putting away the gloves after Tokyo this summer. But the Toulouse boxer had to put an end to his amateur career to go professional, after having ideally won the Olympic gold in Japan. A plan matured since his silver medal in Rio in 2016.
"I have been preparing this deadline for four years, we will say that there is a small obstacle," explains the 2017 world champion in the under 60 kg category, who today weighed less than 63 kg. This slightly delays my visit to the pros. I wonder if I will not do one or two professional fights before the 2021 Games, as the rules allow me. "
The objective is pushed back, but unchanged. "We are in total blur, especially with regard to the organization of the TQO [Olympic qualification tournaments]," admits the boxer, however. In addition, my private partners had planned to follow me until this summer. I do not know if they will extend their commitments. "
Like almost all their fellow citizens, sportspeople find themselves in the uncertainty faced with a new situation, whatever their age. But future retirees are not the worst off, even if the current season should never end. Not everyone can end up with a Martin Fourcade-style triumph.
Athletes in the dark
“I have colleagues who are not kept by their club, observes Christophe Samson. For them, it's more complicated. Jean-Paul Labedade nods. "The situation can be traumatic when it is not the result of the athlete's choice," notes the psychologist. For example, when you find yourself in retirement when you may have considered doing two or three more years, but there is no contract for you because times are tough. This is a case which may not be rare, when the sport eventually resumes.
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