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13 Oct 2014
Nanjing 2014 , YOG , IOC News

Athlete Role Model Lucie Décosse hails “wonderful” Nanjing experience

The 2012 Olympic judo champion and three-time world gold medallist Lucie Décosse of France was one of 38 Athlete Role Models who travelled to Nanjing to fly the flag for the Olympic values and pass on their experience to the participants. In this interview, she tells us about five intensive days spent with the young athletes at the YOG.

“Spectacular!” is the word Lucie Décosse uses to sum up her experience at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing. “The Opening Ceremony was incredible, as was life in the Youth Olympic Village,” she continues.

“The concept was really interesting. On the one hand, there’s real pressure on the athletes when it comes to their sport. On the other hand, there was the cultural and educational side where for 12 days they could take advantage of all of the activities and workshops, while we [the Athlete Role Models] were on hand to offer guidance.”

The 2012 Olympic judo champion observed that some of the young athletes were already competing at a world-class level, but stressed that “it wasn’t just about sport; there was the idea of participation and the central message which was to ‘continue in sport’ by protecting yourself from major dangers like doping and violence, by considering your whole athletic career and by embracing the Olympic values.”

During her five-day stint in Nanjing, Lucie took part in the Chat with Champions sessions. “There were three of us, me, Canadian rugby and bobsleigh champion Heather Moyse and Australian swimmer Patrick Murphy,” she explains. 

“We have all followed different paths, which meant we could relate to the broadest range of athletes. What’s interesting with Heather, for example, is that she focused on her studies until she was 27 and then she became an elite athlete and won everything. As for me, I started judo when I was just six and from that point on it was my number one priority,” she adds.

“We’ve had very different paths but at the end of it we’re both Olympic champions! All three of us have made it through our careers with a level head. It shows that you make your success yourself and that even if you don’t succeed you will at least have learned something.

“You shouldn’t give up, you should always get back up onto your feet, try again and keep going.”

Judo initiations open to all

During the Q&A session, Lucie was asked if she ever got stressed out. “Of course!” came her reply. “As long as you compete you’ll be stressed!”

She also explained that she only felt properly able to take on the Athlete Role Model mantle now that her competitive career as a judoka was over. “Among my fellow ARMs there were champions who are still competing, but that would have been difficult for me. I would have felt that I was taking a risk by giving away my secrets! I would have been afraid to let my guard down in front of potential opponents on the mat. Now I’m at the beginning of my retirement I feel I can talk freely, help others and pass on my knowledge.”

When the Chinese judoka Lio Xiaoyu asked if she would be her coach, Lucie was quick to invite her onto the mat and attend one of the daily judo taster sessions she was overseeing during the Games.

Lucie was keen to point out that it wasn’t only judokas who came to hone their skills at these sessions.  “I’ve had rowers and taekwondo athletes come and train with me. They would finish up at 9.30 then go to their own competitions at 10! It was cool!”

Lucie’s five days in Nanjing were as varied as they were action-packed. She and her fellow Athlete Role Models were also on hand at all of the workshops, which included sessions focused on environmental protection, anti-doping, injury prevention, career development and healthy eating. 

Summing up, she reflected: “Being able to help, pass on and share, this project to represent judo, women’s sport and France was an incredible experience.”

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