“At the rehabilitation center, I was told that I was an alien”

Matthieu Lartot, in the Les Canailles bistro, in Châtillon (Hauts-de-Seine), on August 2, 2023.

Everyone has their “arrow of time”. This allegory allowed the coach of the XV of France, Fabien Galthié, to mobilize his players on one objective: to win the Rugby World Cup, which began on September 8. For the sports journalist Matthieu Lartot, the arrow of time has already reached its target: to watch standing, at the Stade de France, the opening match France – New Zealand. Before resuming his post at France Télévisions and commenting on international meetings, as he has done for fourteen years. Starting with South Africa-Scotland, Sunday September 10, alongside Dimitri Yachvili, a former international who became a consultant for public channels. A victory for the man who had his right leg amputated on June 16 following knee cancer.

Standing, smiling and walking, thanks to a prosthesis and crutches: this is how the sports journalist, short hair and AirPods in his ears, appears to us at the beginning of August, surveying, as others do swimming pool lengths, the place which connects the rehabilitation center of Châtillon (Hauts-de-Seine), where he was hospitalized, and the bistro Les Canailles, where we have an appointment. “I am in very good shape, as rarely. » If Matthieu appreciates the culture of the third half, in the middle of the afternoon, it will be a Diet Coke.

He has slimmed down a bit, looks good. “I started walking one month and six days after having surgery”, he says, just to underline the performance. He who exalts the sporting exploits of others on the screen with a communicative greed keeps in everything a spirit “compete”. “I was told that there were two extraterrestrials in the center: Adama – an amputee patient who arrived a little before me, who gave me a lot of strength, energy – and me. We’re kicking our now. » We have to find reasons to move forward, because, he specifies, “walking with a prosthesis takes a lot of energy”.

Sense of usefulness

At 16, doctors diagnosed Matthieu Lartot with synovialosarcoma, an extremely rare cancer of the knee. After an operation, a relapse, another operation, months of hospitalization and a sterile room, he came out of it, at 18 and a half, with a leg stiffened by a first prosthesis fixed between the tibia and the femur. Obligation to stop rugby. He will be a journalist. At 43, when he learned of his recurrence, very aggressive, at the end of winter, he went to the rehabilitation center and set his conditions – to be on September 8 at the Stadium, standing. “They were a little skeptical, between chemo, healing…” Before succeeding in his bet, thanks to the competence of the nursing staff, he wishes to emphasize, and to those around him. “We cannot face this alone. »

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