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Para-rowing on dry land!

April 2020 - No exception to the rule for the members of the French para-rowing team! The coach, Charles Delval, and his athletes have been subject to the lockdown measures since March 17th and have had to postpone their dreams of Tokyo glory until 2021.

The same idea crossed their minds: why not spend the lockdown period all together? When the country’s stay-at-home measures were announced, the French para-rowing team and their coach Charles Delval were doing a training session at Temple-sur-Lot, their efforts still focused on preparing for the Tokyo Olympics at the end of August 2020. Then the health crisis emerged in all its gravity and they all returned home.

What is the outlook at present? To continue training alone, without the horizons of the training pools, for a competition put off for one year. “It came as quite a shock,” says Charles Delval. “It was a 4-year project and everything had almost come to fruition when it all suddenly stopped. We have to rethink everything from scratch.”

For disabled athletes even more so than for able-bodied sportspeople, non-sport related constraints came back with a vengeance. Some of the team members, whose working schedules had been specially adapted during this year of preparation, had to go back to their day jobs, others had to look after their children. But they are all faced with the same doubts: will they still enjoy access to the same pre-competition support in a year's time?

After more than 3 weeks of lockdown, these questions still remain unanswered. Charles Delval decided to ease off on the training: “I felt I had to release the pressure. I asked them to focus less on quantity than on quality. If the situation lasts, we'll work on visualization, which we don't usually have the time to do, and I'm also keeping a few light-hearted training activities in reserve!”

As they usually attend training sessions once a month, the para-athletes are used to working at a distance. So, after the imposition of the lockdown, they simply took out their personal ergometers connected to an online software program that, under normal conditions, allows their coach to monitor their sessions from home: modern methods that hold no mystery for them. But they are all looking forward impatiently to getting back on the water, hoping that the summer competitions will be postponed to the autumn for the official launch of the new season that will be taking them to Tokyo next year.

Charles Delval at a glance

▶︎ Biography

Born on July 31, 1981 in Saint-Quentin (in the Aisne département in northern France)
International junior in 1999
3 times French champion in a coxed pair and twice in the eight
Coach of the French Para-Rowing Team from 2004 to 2012
Head of the para-rowing sector since 2016

▶︎ Coaching achievements 

2018 World Champion (PR2 women’s scull)
2017 (2 PR3 mixed pairs) and 2019 (women's PR1 scull) World Vice-Champion 
Bronze medal in 2018 (mixed PR3 coxed four and PR3 men’s coxless pair)

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