Tokyo 2020: the lesson in courage of Sandrine Martinet

Monday, 23 august 2021

The flag bearer of the French Paralympic team in Tokyo, supported by Banque Populaire Bourgogne Franche-Comté, will be bringing to an end in Japan her career as a judoka marked by a memorable struggle

A symbolic career
Sandrine Martinet’s career path says a lot about sport and athletes. It also explains why the public loves to follow these great international competitions because they provide an intimate view of the athletes themselves where we can see their strengths, their weaknesses, what makes them truly human. Sandrine Martinet has one of the greatest records in French sport; she is a double silver medalist in Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008), and went on to win gold in Rio in 2016, a title that had eluded her twice. It was, however, a competition without a medal and a major defeat that marked people’s memories and gave this physiotherapist a special place in the pantheon of French champions.

Beyond suffering
In the London 2012 Paralympics, where she had come to claim the gold medal that had eluded her until then, she was competing in the semi-finals of the under-52 kilo judo category. But when she was fighting against the Chinese Lijing Wang, she blocked her ankle on a hold and fractured her malleolus, an extremely painful injury. But Sandrine Martinet didn’t abandon the fight; she would try to win this semi-final despite the terrible pain. The public was deeply moved when they witnessed this lesson in courage on the part of this athlete who has suffered since childhood from achromatopsia, a retinal disease characterized by color blindness and a significant reduction in visual acuity. Sandrine Martinet ended up in tears, on her knees, overwhelmed by this fracture but she refused to give up!

She will bring this impressive career to an end in Japan, the country where judo was born and which made courage one of its cardinal values. There is no better place to say farewell to her kimono!

She will now be able to devote herself fully to her profession as a physiotherapist.

Photo copyright: CSPF


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