France’s Marie-Amelie Le Fur is balancing the stresses and strains of elite sport alongside the demands of a working life and motherhood. And she would not want it any other way.
“I think these three lives allow me to better manage the pressure,” Le Fur laughed. “The pressures of sports are very difficult for me and when I am at work, when I am with my daughter it’s easier for me and I don’t have to be only concentrating on sports.”
It is an idea that seems to be working. A long-time employee of the French energy firm, EDF, Le Fur has always explored life away from athletics. And after adding the Rio 2016 long jump and 400m T44 titles to the 100m gold she won at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Le Fur took it to a new level.
In December 2018 she was elected president of the French Paralympic and Sports Committee (FPSC) and swiftly followed that by giving birth to her daughter.
“For my three lives, it’s just a question of complementary organisation and priority,” Le Fur explained. “Sometimes I don’t train, sometimes I have to go to work and sometimes it’s only training. So, you have to do daily choices and I am comfortable with that.
“The most difficult is when you have to manage change in your organisation. It’s very difficult because you can’t have emergencies – but you have to [deal] with them. But I think I am like this; I love this life.”
In February of this year Le Fur returned to competition after a protracted absence and proceeded to jump 6.14m – breaking her own T64 world record – at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Dubai.
She expects, however, to have to go a whole lot further to retain her Paralympic title at Tokyo 2020, predicting the winning mark will be “6.30m”. It is the reason why she has chosen to focus solely on long jump because, understandably, “it’s easier with my three lives to concentrate on only one gold medal.”
A fourth Paralympic title will put the perfect full-stop on a sporting career that started nearly 30 years ago. A junior athletics champion, Le Fur was back running four months after her left leg was amputated below the knee following a serious motorbike accident at the age of 15.
The fact she had any of these opportunities is the reason why she agreed to become president of the FPSC.
“I think with sport you can aim at a goal to think differently [about] your life,” the 32-year-old said. “With sport you can have a big ambition. When you are lost you can find in sport a lot of energy to build a new future for you, a better future for you.”
It is no surprise the title of her autobiography, published in 2019, reads in English: Make Your Life a Dream.
“This title means to me whatever the constraints, the difficulty or the tragedy which we are confronted [with] there is always hope,” Le Fur explained. “We retain in all situations the capacity to dream and to have ambition.”
Le Fur’s ambition means she will change straight out of her spikes in Tokyo and into the outfit of an NPC president. She is desperate to ensure France takes full advantage of the “very unique opportunity” hosting the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games provides.
While she will not be there as an athlete – Le Fur grimaced and smiled simultaneously at the mere mention – she will be there as a “woman and a mom” who is ready to “have a greater engagement in social and societal projects.”