Paralympic Games
7-18 September

Jesel looks forward to return to Paralympics

The French rower helped his team qualify for Rio 2016 just about a year until the Paralympic Games begin. 12 Sep 2015
The 2015 World Rowing Championships is held in Aiguebelette, France.
ⒸIgor Meijer
By Fran Brown | For the IPC

The Rio 2016 Paralympics are almost a year away, and France’s Antoine Jesel can relax a bit after helping his para-rowing boat qualify for the Games earlier in September.

Jesel was part of the leg, trunk and arms mixed coxed four (LTAMix4+) team that took second in the B finals at the 2015 World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette, France, en route to qualifying for Rio 2016. The French pressed the German boat and finished two seconds behind.

Returning to the Paralympic Games is an opportunity for redemption after France did not make the A final at London 2012. For Jesel, however, the London 2012 Games represented something deeper – a step forward in his recovery from a car accident 10 years before.

“I learned that from London 2012, I was really obsessed because it was a synonym of anger and revenge,” Jesel said. ”I was hurt by a British car 10 years ago, and I sent tickets to the unknown driver to watch my races [in London]. Our results were a failure, but I had a personal victory. Encoutering the British driver helped me a lot to rebuild myself mentally.”

France will have to challenge defending world champion Great Britain and the USA are also top contenders. But Jesel is keeping his focus on his own boat.

“My only goal now is to give my best while enjoying pushing my physical limits,” the 33-year-old said.

With a mixed crew in the LTAMix4+, France’s training is complex and focused on combining the abilities of the team. They finished a second behind Canada in the B final at London. Jesel is only one of two from that boat in London who rowed at the World Championships this year, so finding a new chemistry has been in the works.

“The boat is gender mixed and our disabilities are quite different: for some in lower while others in upper limbs,” he said. “That is why we are emphasising our work on synchronisation and power application.”

His training schedule includes sessions on the river Marne near his Parisian home every day beginning at 7am. Video analysis and body conditioning often follow rowing sessions. Jesel manages to fit in work in the afternoons as a film editor and if pain allows, a swim or indoor rowing ergometer session in the evening. He also rows as part of able-bodied crews with his rowing club at the weekend, saying it is a good opportunity to progress and perform his best at Rio.

“Rowing is a perpetual quest to find the best way between technicality and power,” he said. “A lot of patience and adaptation are necessary, but the pleasure to slide on the water overcomes difficulties and pain.”

Tickets for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games are now on sale for Brazilian residents. Overseas fans will be able to buy from authorised vendors in their countries.