The French handbike specialists have put up an outstanding performance in Tokyo with Loïc Vergnaud (H5) and Florian Jouanny (H2) winning silver and bronze medals respectively.
Silver at his first attempt
Loïc Vergnaud, who was competing in his first Paralympics, gave a masterful performance in the handbike time trial event in Tokyo. He took 2nd place in the race behind a Dutchman and claimed a very fine silver medal. This is a wonderful reward for this athlete from the Roanne region northwest of Lyons, sponsored by the Caisse d’Epargne Loire Drôme Ardèche under the aegis of the Performance Pact. After suffering a work accident in 2004 and having a tibial prosthesis fitted to his right leg, he took up handisport first by playing soccer on crutches before discovering in 2010 his true vocation: para-cycling, a discipline that turned out to be an excellent choice for him!
From skiing to para-cycling
Handbike is a discipline favorable to the French competitors in Tokyo considering that Florian Jouanny won the bronze medal in the H2 class (the lower the number, the greater the handicap). If things had been different, Florian Jouanny could have won a medal in skiing. A native of Bourg d'Oisans in the French Alps, Florian Jouanny has been skiing since he was old enough to walk. He was an adept at freeride skiing in snowparks when a bad jump followed by a bad landing left him a quadriplegic. He would subsequently rediscover the sensations of a high speed sporting discipline with the handbike. This medal is a tribute to his hard work and his lifelong love of sport, which led him to compete in an Ironman race after his accident... At the age of 29, Florian Jouanny, supported by Banque Populaire Auvergne Rhône Alpes, has a promising sporting future ahead of him!
Photo credit: G. Picout