“I know now that I want to work in sport. This is clearly a field which is satisfying for me and I have a good feeling with youngsters, so why not share my experiences.”
One of France’s greatest para-athletes, five time world champion and six-time Paralympic medallist Vincent Gauthier-Manuel, has announced his retirement from alpine skiing after more than eight years at the top of the sport.
The standing skier made the announcement via a video posted to Twitter accompanied by the comment: “Clap de fin! The end!”
Speaking of his recovery from a back injury which prevented him from competing at the 2015 IPC Alpine Skiing Championships in Panorama, Canada, and ultimately resulted in his retirement he said: “For my life it is ok but for high level sport, it is going to be complicated because I am not sure I can get all my physical aptitudes back. I have decided to end my career as a skier, a career which brought me a lot, but now I have to turn the page and to move forward.
“I had to think about it on my own and with the coaches and finally about the next events. I cannot envisage myself neither in two years at the World Championships nor in three years at the Games. So finally I prefer stopping now. This is something which has been well thought out, it is not finishing on a sudden impulse.”
Born in Premanon, Gauthier-Manuel began skiing when he was just three years old and skied for fun until the age of 11. His potential was recognised by Jean Yves Le Meur and he was sent to the French resort of Tignes under the supervision of French Handisport, a moment which Gauthier-Manuel counts as one of the best of his career.
He went on to make his international debut in 2006 and entered his first World Championships in 2009.
Just one year later he would step onto the podium three times at Vancouver 2010 having picked up two silver medals in super-G and super-combined and bronze in giant slalom.
He collected his first world titles at the 2011 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in Sestriere, Italy, winning a medal in every single event including three golds in giant slalom, slalom and super-combined.
Just two years later and in the year before the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, Gauthier-Manuel retained his slalom and giant slalom world titles in La Molina, Spain.
Perhaps the greatest moment of the Frenchman’s career came at Sochi 2014, where he stormed to gold in giant slalom to win his first Paralympic gold medal. He also won a silver medal in slalom.
“The gold medal is the accomplishment of a career and I am very proud of this moment,” Gauthier-Manuel said. “I have reached my maximum. I am 27-years-old - normally it is the moment where you are the best, so I do not think I am able to do better than the last year.”
After famously melting down his Sochi medals to make an engagement ring for his fiancée, the Frenchman will now turn his attention to his wedding in 2016.
Following that, he has vowed to remain involved in sport.
“I know now that I want to work in sport. This is clearly a field which is satisfying for me and I have a good feeling with youngsters, so why not share my experiences,” he said.