“I know all the girls will be strong in Rio so I know I can’t win easily in Rio.”
French double world champion Marie-Amelie Le Fur believes her new found confidence will help her reach the top of the podium once again at this year’s Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The 27-year-old was in scintillating form at the 2015 World Championships in Doha, Qatar, smashing both the 400m and long jump T44 world records on her way to two gold medals.
Le Fur, who will compete at next week’s IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Berlin, Germany, believes the help and guidance she received from her sports psychologist last year was instrumental in that success.
“I know that I needed [a sports psychologist] for the long jump because in all major competitions I have a mental problem, so I had to work on this,” admitted Le Fur, who finished second at both the 2013 World Championships and the 2014 European Championships.
The French team captain had lined up on home soil at the 2013 World Championships with the long jump T44 world record under her belt, having leapt 5.43m the previous year.
But she could only manage a best of 4.82m as Dutch Para athlete Iris Pruysen secured the top spot with a jump of 5.00m.
At the 2014 European Championships, Le Fur lost out to Great Britain’s Stef Reid, who had leapt a world record 5.47m at the Commonwealth Games a month earlier and finished four centimetres ahead of her French rival to take the top spot.
In order to reach the top of the podium, Le Fur knew it was time for change – so in 2015 she did just that.
“I changed my training, I have a new fitness coach, and my head coach is the same but we also have a mental coach for long jump so I am more positive than before.
“In Doha I had more confidence in my own abilities and in my training so it was easier for me,” explained Le Fur, who reclaimed the world record when she leapt 5.48m in June last year before going on to add a further 26 centimetres to that mark at October’s World Championships.
In fact Le Fur did not stop there – she also sought help with her sprinting, and the results were impressive. She became the first T44 sprinter to go under 60 seconds in the 400m, sealing global gold with a time of 59.30.
“When I spoke with my mental coach I understood that I had a problem on the 400m too. So we worked on this just before Doha, and in Doha I did a really good race,” added Le Fur.
Le Fur’s efforts to change her mind set have clearly paid off – at June’s IPC Athletics European Championships in Grosseto, Italy, she won 400m gold in a championship record 59.34 and long jump bronze behind T42 Para athletes Vanessa Low and Martina Caironi. Two of her attempts were over the 5.60m mark.
“It was a very good time for my second 400m of the season, and the long jump was good too, I was very near my long jump in Doha, so I know that I can increase and improve my performance. I’m really confident for my season, but I need to be better in Rio,” she added.
Le Fur will have a further chance to improve when she lines up at the penultimate IPC Athletics Grand Prix of the season in Berlin, Germany, on 16-17 July.
With just over eight weeks to go before the start of the Paralympic Games, Le Fur is aware that her rivals – including Reid, who missed the World Championships through injury - will be working hard to catch up.
“I know all the girls will be strong in Rio so I know I can’t win easily in Rio. I have to work and increase my performance in order to win.
“I don’t think there will be a big distance between the girls in Rio - I think all the girls will jump around 5.70m in Rio so it will be a short difference between the girls.”
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)
The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.
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