Para rowing: indestructible Érika

Monday, 30 august 2021

Érika Sauzeau, supported by Banque Populaire du Nord, won a superb bronze medal in rowing in the mixed PR3 coxed four.

A perfect race
It was the race of a lifetime! The race you dream about again and again when you’re suffering the pains of training. “Érika Sauzeau and her colleagues in the mixed PR3 coxed four ran the perfect race for a medal,” said Charles Delval, head of the para-rowing sector in the French Federation, who was present in Tokyo. “They managed to get out of the starts faster than in previous races and were among the frontrunners from the very outset. When they passed the first 500 meters mark, they were already rowing in third place, so they were able to use their strong point, i.e. a strong physical commitment mid-race, to break away from the pack. The crew was relaxed, focused on their individual and collective goals, and nothing could keep them from the podium.”

From basketball to rowing
This is the medal of perseverance for Érika Sauzeau, supported by Banque Populaire du Nord.  Fate has been particularly unkind to this former soldier on two occasions. Twenty years ago, she was hit by a bus, an accident that severely injured her leg. Then, in 2013, she was the victim of a work accident that has a devastating impact on her left leg, leaving it paralyzed. But this didn’t weaken the young woman’s determination. First of all, she began to play wheelchair basketball. She joined the Amiens Métropole club and remained there for three seasons. And then the French Paralympic & Sports Committee held a series of talent-spotting trials, especially in view of the Paris Olympics in 2024. It was immediately apparent that Érika Sauzeau had real athletic potential, to the extent that she could aim to compete in several disciplines.

A serene athlete
She started with wheelchair tennis before turning her hand to rowing where she showed immense potential. Fate would do the rest. A woman rower in the mixed coxed four boat withdrew from the competition. Érika Sauzeau took her place and blended in perfectly with the team who progressed with each outing. 
“Érika Sauzeau is a discreet and diligent sportswoman,” explains Charles Delval, “in the space of two years she has become a high-level rower, always attentive to her coaches’ advice to improve her technique. She has put in a very substantial amount of training to bring herself up to the required physical standards. Her serenity when faced with major sporting events is both exemplary and effective!
Photo credit: G. Picout