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Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, from carefree hope to skilled athlete

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The scene dates again to March 2012. Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, barely 20 years outdated, has simply received his semi-final on the Indoor Worlds in Istanbul. Requested concerning the 60-meter hurdles last, the Frenchman reveals refreshing self-confidence: “I really like gold like all athlete. Liu Xiang [champion olympique chinois en titre et ex-recordman du monde] isn’t somebody who scares me. I’ve no limits. I’ll go for it. » Eyes glowing, he bursts out laughing: “Whether it is, it’s me who scares him. »

Third in Turkey for his first main senior championships, the younger hopeful pocketed the primary medal of a powerful assortment to come back: ten in complete together with a bronze on the final 2019 Worlds and a title of European champion 2018. Sunday 17 July (semi-final and last of the 110m hurdles), the hurdler as soon as once more represents one of many essential possibilities of medals for the French staff throughout these 2022 world championships, with its proficient youngest Sasha Zhoya (20 years outdated ).

However the carefree rookie gave technique to a extra skilled athlete, who confronted criticism and accidents that tanned his pores and skin. Sufferer of a proper calf harm on the finish of April, he resumed sprinting only a month and a half earlier than his entry into the working in Eugene. In 2021, he had already returned in extremis from a bodily glitch to rank 5e of the Olympic last in Tokyo in 13 s 16.

Loud mouth and showmanship

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In 2018 and 2019, different bodily hitches throughout his summer time preparation didn’t stop him from getting on a podium. “Usually it occurs on the similar time and they’re all the time totally different accidentshe defined to World in June. It is like biking, you’ll be able to’t overlook it. Even when my preparation isn’t “regular”, after I return to the observe, I’ll know find out how to do it. I’ve a relative serenity. I be taught with every harm. »

Together with his tall determine, his lengthy hair and his flashy and stunning appears to be like – he wore forearm muffs for a very long time – Pascal Martinot-Lagarde has by no means left anybody detached. The peace of mind and enthusiasm of the younger man, 2010 junior world champion and landed two years later like a meteorite on the observe, got here to shake up French athletics, typically caught in a sure conformism. A press convention or an interview with “PML” was – and nonetheless is – the understanding of excellent phrases, a pleasure of life and sincerity. With a grain of insanity and a way of present that we’re extra accustomed to discovering in American athletes.

“You should not hesitate to purpose for the moon. In case you carry a dreamy athlete again right down to earth, you drive him to not carry out”

The hurdler suffered from its status. His confidence was rapidly mistaken for vanity. “The French don’t like ambition, those that speak. Once I present up on a observe, after I say I need to smash the French file, so long as I have never carried out it, they are saying I’ve a giant mouth, does he remorse. The speeches I had ten years in the past are neither extra nor much less the identical as at the moment, besides that at the moment I’ve confirmed myself. »

And the licensee of Montgeron (Essonne) to imagine her persona : “Definitely, I used to be loopy however this insanity makes progress. If you end up a younger and bold athlete, don’t hesitate to purpose for the moonhe claims. In case you carry a dreamy athlete again right down to earth, you drive him to not carry out. »

It was in a legendary athletics stadium, Letzigrund in Zurich, that the younger champion skilled an episode that had a robust affect on him. In 2014, it’s at its chronometric peak. At nearly each outing, he improved his efficiency till, on July 18 of that yr, he beat the French file, because of a powerful 12 s 95. He appeared as the large favourite in the course of the European Championships and , as standard, doesn’t hesitate to show its ambitions. However this time, he misses within the last by setting a quite sluggish time for his stage on the time (13 s 29). The failure is relative since he wins a bronze medal.

“Avalanche of insults”

A podium that doesn’t stop the critics from falling down. By his personal admission, he receives a well-known slap that badly vaccinated him”. “After my last the place I missed out, I acquired an avalanche of insults, of damaging fallout. It was the primary time that I spoke and that I didn’t assume behindhe remembers. I beat my file in each race. It was as if individuals have been ready for me on the bend and that at every bend, I did not get a crust. Then, the second you screw up, individuals do not miss you. »

Carelessness flies away. Martinot-Lagarde nonetheless likes to run. His ardour doesn’t start however in public, he’s not the identical. “I locked my interviews extra, I turned a bit extra bland athlete who appears to be like like everybody else”, he blurts out. He retains his exuberance and naturalness for intimacy: “I stay myself in life. I current a restrained model in entrance of the journalists. We now have to guard ourselves and say nothing. We’re pushed to be boring, tasteless. »

Since Zürich, Pascal Martinot-Lagarde has proven excessive regularity, overcoming accidents, typically rising on the finish of the straight line to grab a medal or a spot of honor that we didn’t anticipate. “I’ve been a part of the furnishings in French athletics for ten years”he jokes.

Though he not runs as quick as he did when he set his French file, he’s aiming for one more type of satisfaction, longevity on the prime stage. “I need to final. I swap my coaching from efficiency to regularity and well being. So long as I can get underneath 13.20, I maintain going. Why not till the 2028 Olympics? » And to proceed: “A giant race Martinot-Lagarde with regular preparation, it may be lower than 13 s 10. For the championship, it will possibly do it. » Regardless of his efforts, the pure doesn’t take lengthy to resurface.

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