On August 15, Lorette Charpy made her comeback in the best possible way: a movement on the uneven bars perfectly mastered in the final of the European Championships in Munich. But, instead of the smile that should punctuate her performance, rewarded with a bronze medal, she offers a grimace to the spectators and collapses. One of her knees is affected, the same as a year earlier, which had deprived her of her Olympic dream. Two weeks later, the young woman confirms the fears. “The fate is relentless”, she wrote on Instagram. Another rupture of a cruciate ligament. “I feel empty, without emotion”she adds.
Nine months later, Lorette Charpy sweeps away his blues as soon as he dares approach. “In terms of morale, and depending on the pain, it fluctuates. But always in the extremes, smiled the 21-year-old gymnast. For a second crusader, the operation is heavier, the body feels it. It’s not easy, but I feel like I’m doing everything I can to come back. »
The rehabilitation is far from over, but the fierce determination of the one who had shattered her face in a fall on the upper bar of the asymmetric in 2018, just after the first of her three continental medals (then vice-champion of Europe by team, she was also bronze medalist on the beam in 2019), is no longer to prove: “In my head, I set myself a deadline. I don’t know if everyone would agree with it, but it allows me to move forward”.
“In a corner of my head, the dream would be to be at the French Open at Bercy, then at the World Championships (Antwerp, September 30-October 8). People think I’m a bit crazy, but I need to set myself such goals to endure the pain.”
No need to consider meeting her during the French Championships in Saint-Brieuc, on June 17 and 18. She chose to focus on validating her Staps license. And, above all, still does not want to rush. “ It’s not my style to show up if I’m not happy with what I can show.”slips this perfectionist.
On the other hand, she hopes to participate in the national courses and tests which will mark out July and August. “If the knee is fine, I would like to play my place on bars and beam, two apparatus where France could need me, she mentions. In a corner of my head, the dream would be to be at the French Open at Bercy, then at the World Championships (Antwerp, September 30-October 8). People think I’m a bit crazy but I need to set myself such goals to bear the pain. And if I succeed, I will prove that I can be trusted. »
In the end, the most difficult thing is to get rid of these voices that she hasn’t stopped hearing since her injury and which serenade her: “Careful, you’re going to hurt yourself”. “I have to take it upon myself, because it’s anchored in my head. I try to get rid of it, to forget this knee a little, to taste a little more the path that opens in front of me.she says.
Lorette Charpy (right) with Elizabeth Seitz (GER, gold medal) and Alice Damato (ITA) on the uneven bars podium at the European Gymnastics Championships in Munich last August. (EXPA/ Eibner/ Heike Feiner/Expa/ eibner-pressephoto)
Stay in Japan
And, for this, knows how to appreciate and seize the opportunities that arise. “One Monday morning, they ask me without explaining anything if I want to go to Japan. I had to give the answer right away, but I thought about it a bit. I can’t represent France on the floor yet, but maybe in another way…”
Accustomed to the Athletes’ Commission for two years, Lorette Charpy was invited to participate in the first G7 of gymnastics, from May 19 to 21, in Hiroshima. “As a universal sport practiced all over the world by young and old, gymnastics plays a unique role in bringing people together, explained Morinari Watanabe, the Japanese president of the international federation (FIG). By inviting gymnasts from the G7 countries as a symbolic representation of this community, to come to such an emotional place, I hope we can spread this message of peace at a time when the world really needs it. . »
“It was a mark of confidence to have been appointed. Even if I prefer to represent France on the apparatus…”
An experience that the member of the Saint-Etienne cluster considered rewarding. Where she was able to rub shoulders, exchange “despite the language barrier”, with big names in his sport. Around her were thus present two individual Olympic champions, the Japanese Kohei Uchimura and the American Nastia Liukin, the Canadian Emma Spence, the Japanese Mai Murakami, the German Marcel Nguyen, the Briton Giarnni Regini-Moran, the Italian Alexandra Agiurgiuclese.
A former rhythmic gymnast, Katherine Uchida, turned out to be a special guest since she was a Canadian citizen but had family ties to the city of Hiroshima, which she had never visited. The opportunity for her to “reconnecting with his heritage”.
“We met politicians including Fumio Kishida, the Japanese Prime Minister and President of the G7, we discovered the Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima and measured the atrocities, says Lorette Charpy. We also went to a school where we trained children. […] We had a time to discuss the war, where everyone brought their point of view. For some, it was more delicate to approach than for others, of course I didn’t have the same pressure as Nastia who recalled that she was American, but was born in Russia. »
While waiting to resume the thread of her competitive career, Lorette Charpy has garnered this new experience. “It was a lot of responsibility, but a sign of confidence to have been appointed. Even if I prefer to represent France on the apparatus…”