Sandrine Martinet, Paralympic judokate from US Orléans.

In a few weeks, Sandrine Martinet, judokate from US Orléans, will play the fifth Paralympic Games of her career. The opportunity to look back on her career, in which she alternates between family life, professional life and sports career.

Twelve-time French champion, one European title, three-time world champion and three Olympic medals, including one in gold: in her twenty-year career, Sandrine Martinet has made a name for herself in the judo landscape. This summer in Tokyo, the world n ° 1 in her -48kg category will once again wear the French colors, but also those of her club, US Orléans.

Judo as a bulwark against mockery

Sandrine Martinet started judo at the age of nine in Vincennes, where she grew up. “My brothers did it in high school and I was very interested in combat sport. The fact that it is not a ball sport, I said to myself that visually that would be more suitable ”. It also identifies with the values ​​of the moral code, displayed in each dojo, such as respect, honor and sincerity. Until the age of 20, she trained with able-bodied people.

But one of the reasons why she chose this sport is also to integrate better among the students in her class. Suffering from achromatopsia, which makes her fear the light and prevents her from distinguishing colors, she is the target of mockery within her school. “I had my eyes closed a lot of times, or I wore sunglasses in class and the style back then was pretty hard to wear * laugh *”.

I was entitled to “the mole” and as I was 1m10 with raised arms, I also heard “the dwarf”. Thanks to judo, I was able to release all my anger and energy in a positive way.

Sandrine Martinet, Paralympic judokate from US Orléans

After obtaining her baccalaureate, the young woman repeats her first year of biology, with six-hour weeks of lessons. “It was the first year in which Paralympic women could be selected for the Athens Olympic Games (2004, editor’s note). So I took the opportunity to do the French championships, where I was first, and the world championships where I finished second. ” For her first Olympic Games, she will leave with the silver medal.

Family life, professional life and Olympic career

Since her 20 years, Sandrine Martinet has reconciled student life, then professional life as a physiotherapist, with her sports career. When she had children, it required “A lot of energy and organization. In 2017, we went from the disabled sports federation to the judo federation so that allowed us to have more personalized assistance ”. The club also contributes to this financial assistance so that the athletes can put their profession aside to devote themselves to their physical preparation, “But when you’re not in the media, it’s also difficult to get sponsors” regrets judokate. She was able to stop working nine months before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, ultimately postponed for a year.

The 38-year-old judokate had planned to retire from sports after the Rio Olympics in 2016 to take care of her children. “I couldn’t make the transition. I still had things to do, then it’s Tokyo. This is the land of judo! ”. The mother of the family trains every other week: at home in Mâcon in a room adapted and financed by the department, at INSEP, in France poles, in particular within that of Lyon and in Orléans where she has her coach Cyril Pages. “I got laid off there because they want to develop para judo and jujitsu. It allows me to shine in relation to women’s sport, health sport and para judo where I live but also where I am licensed ”

Direction Tokyo … and after?

A few weeks before the start of the Games, Sandrine Martinet says she feels “pretty good” despite her descent in the -48kg category (she only made two competitions in this category). “I don’t think about the pressure of being the person you expect, the number one. I want to be in the best possible conditions to win this second gold medal. I especially want to have fun, because sometimes with injuries and at almost 40 years old, there is the hardness of the level and to separate from his family ”.

For the first time in her career, the judokate is also a candidate to be one of the flag bearers of the France team. This is also a first: this year the French Paralympic and Sports Committee is offering the general public the opportunity to select the male and female athlete who will represent them at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. A way “To increase the visibility of Paralympism” according to Sandrine Martinet.

Considering to end her career after the Games this summer (even if nothing is decided yet), Sandrine Martinet does not lack goals to achieve thereafter. “I also want to get back to work, develop my skills in sports physiotherapy and then why not train myself to be a physiotherapist for an Olympic team? I also want to use my story and my experience to educate more people ”. Finally, the judokate intends to enjoy moments with her husband and children.

What is the difference between judo and disabled judo?

Paralympic judokas can only be visually impaired. Unlike the able-bodied, they start the fight with their hands already placed on the opponent’s kimono. After that, as long as there is contact and a hand is not let go for too long, the fight proceeds normally. All the info in your hands. In France, more and more judo clubs make their practitioners work with their eyes closed, sometimes even children.

Another slight difference with the able-bodied fights: the referee remains as much as possible in the center of the mat. It constitutes a point of reference for the athletes. When he pronounces “Jogai”, it means that the duo are on the edge of the fighting surface. In judo, intentionally leaving the combat area or forcing the opponent to leave may be penalized with a penalty (called shido).



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