Rowing: Emma Lunatti, sport in the blood

Thursday, 23 march 2023

Supported by Natixis Interépargne, Emma Lunatti pours her all into preparing for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. She shares her love of sport and her special passion for rowing in words and video.

Always ready for a challenge

Silver medalist at the 2021 Rowing World Cup and rowing leader of the French quad sculls team, Emma Lunatti also competed in the Tokyo 2021 Olympic and Paralympic Games. She has always had a passion for sport and loves to overcome the challenges she faces. “I’ve always enjoyed playing a lot of different sports: I practiced gymnastics, basketball, judo, horse riding, cross-country skiing and biathlon before I discovered rowing.” When her rowing trainer suggested she compete in the French Championships in 2016 she immediately agreed: “I loved the sport so much—it’s so much fun and friendly and there’s such a great atmosphere—that I said Yes. I went for it and became part of an extraordinary group!  

For Emma, it was a great way of taking on a team project and making wonderful new friends. 2016 was an intense and decisive year for her. It marked her entry into the rowing community and started her on the road to the Tokyo 2021 Olympics. Moving to Paris from Grenoble, preparing to be a high-level athlete, adapting to a completely different pace of life were all challenges she approached with an iron will. “I chose this path and the sacrifices that go with it, sacrifices in terms of friends and of course family. If you don’t really love what you do, you can’t keep up this pace. But I do love it. I live for it. I don’t have to force myself.”

And she works relentlessly to reach her goal. Training takes up around 95% of her time. Everything you do in training is what you sow, and then you reap the rewards of all that effort in competition. That’s very motivating.” 

Mind over matter… and why support matters

Qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games is the initial stage in the journey, the basic foundation from where everything else becomes possible. According to Emma, “Once you qualify, you’re calmer, even if there’s no escaping the stress and pressure that come with competing at Olympic level.” For her, “taking part in such an amazing event involves a mixture of pressure and emotion and you have to work on developing mental toughness to cope with this.” This involves being self-aware and recognizing your faults—she describes herself as stubborn and someone who knows her own strengths: “I pay attention to others, even if I’m not physically there very often. For my family and friends, I am there. It’s vital for me to be there for them whether I’m close by or far away.”

You also need a good dose of confidence, in yourself and in your relationships. “In sport, pride is something you have in yourself. And it’s there. I’m lucky enough to have had the same coach always, who encouraged me to take up quad sculls. We’ve a great relationship of trust! It wasn’t easy to get back to form after Covid, but seeing the pride in my coach’s eyes when I beat my record, that made me feel so good!”

Now, Emma is supported by Natixis Interépargne, giving her every opportunity to take her goals to the next level. “Financial support from Natixis Interépargne is a window on the outside world and a weight off my mind.” She was initially based at INSEP (France’s National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance) and this support gives her more independence: “I’m delighted to be independent and to be able to live this sports experience to the full, especially as my freedom and independence are so important for me. The support gives me peace of mind. I can be more relaxed and have fun. But most importantly, I see the difference in my results: I’m more confident and less pressured—which is both needed and welcomed.”

After Tokyo, which was a great opportunity, let’s wish Emma Lunatti every success for her next big challenge: “Right now, I’m laser-focused on Paris for sure and certain. No doubt about it!”