Get to know the Athlete Role Models: Eric Alard
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced a few weeks back a list of 15 Athlete Role Models (ARMs) who will support the young athletes going to the 2nd Winter Youth Olympic Games from 12 to 21 February 2016 in Lillehammer, Norway. They are presented individually through a short interview. Today: Eric Alard.
Name: Eric Alard
How and why did you start your sport?
Before doing bobsleigh, I was an Alpine skier. After some injuries, I have to stop this career in 1986. In 1988, the FFSG (French Ice Sports Federation) organised a big test event to try to find new athletes for its bobsleigh team. In 1988, bobsleigh was nothing in France, but the French NOC wanted all sports to have a French team for the Olympic Games in Albertville in 1992.
I went to this physical test and I was selected to do a "real" test in Igls, in Austria. At this time, there was no bobsleigh track in France. I was good enough at this test to be selected for the French national team with 15 others guys. We began to train and discover what bobsleigh was... We travelled all around the world to learn new tracks with our Swiss trainer. It was the beginning of 10 years in the French national team.
What achievements are you most proud of in your sporting career?
In 1990, I won with my teammates the Junior World Champion title... We were all fresh in this sport, it was an unexpected title and we were a very good team... not only physically and technically but also in terms of our spirit...
In 1995, I also won a bronze medal at the two-man World Championship... The first ever medal for a French team in this discipline. During all the week, I knew that I would be at the top during the competition. It was really a good, but "strange" feeling.
What achievements are you most proud of outside your sporting career?
I'm very proud of what I am today... I am building myself more with my own experiences from what I study at school or university. I learnt so much being a professional athlete... and being able to bring this into my normal life is something I'm very proud of.
Favourite moment at the Olympics? A special memory of one of your participations?
In 2002, I was the trainer for the New Zealand bobsleigh team. A small team, not a lot of competitors in all disciplines for this small country, and we were not fighting for medals. But, we did everything as if we were able to have the gold. They gave everything until the last moment in all parts... They were not there only to participate, but to give everything and respect their country, their staff (trainer, physio, etc...) and themselves for all they did to be there at the Olympics.
Another great moment for me was the silver Olympic medal for my team during the Games in Sochi in 2014. Sure, it was special because after 26 years, it was the first time I was myself a part of a great sports achievement. What made this medal more beautiful for me was the French school class which had followed me during all season. We were in contact during all the winter, sharing our emotions, and they followed the two-man competition live at school. They were French, they supported a Swiss team, but it doesn't matter. Two months after the Games, one of the Swiss medallists went to this French school and met all the 10 year-old school students. Seeing the light in their eyes at that moment was unforgettable.
What made you want to participate in the Youth Olympic Games?
When I was younger, I met some great people who taught what sport is... All the values that you can learn from sport. Now, it's my time to share my knowledge, to be like a "mentor" for all these young athletes.
What do you like most about the Youth Olympic Games concept?
The concept itself. For example, in bobsleigh, they all have the same material, the same runners. The only difference will be made by the athletes themselves. It's not like in the "normal" Games, where you have to have a lot of money to buy the best material... In bobsleigh, if you don't have money, even if you're the best athlete, you have no chance to win a gold medal at the Olympics.
Competing at the YOG is something different. For sure, each athlete will give their best to win, but I'm pretty sure that the atmosphere will be different. We will have time to share what we are, to see some different cultures and so on...
What are you looking forward to the most in Lillehammer 2016?
Everything!!! I don't want to sleep during 12 days, and be part of all the sports, all the meetings, etc. :-)... I know it will not be possible, but I really want to take this event on the human side and try to give my energy to all who will be present in Lillehammer.
What’s next for you in your career?
I'm now a speaker, a teacher and a coach for companies, school and people. I teach or present to them how they can use the philosophy, the tools and the methods of high-level sport for their own life (professional and personal).
What are your hobbies?
Being with my family (wife and 2 kids, Rémi 13 and Lucie 11), movies, sport and sharing things with people...
Anything else you want to add?
You do a wonderful job. Thank you for organising the YOG and letting me be part of it. It's really a great gift you give to me. Take care.