From former precision shooters to top athletes dreaming of the Paralympics in Paris, Master Corporal Thomas’s elastic journey

Sitting on a small platform next to the pitching area of ​​the National Defense Sports Center (CNSD) in Fontainebleau (Seine-et-Marne), Thomas finished his training for the day. With a shaved head and sunglasses on his nose, this 33-year-old soldier proudly wears a dark blue swarming “Invictus Games 2022” T-shirt with infectious humor. On April 16th, he will participate in this international sporting event for the first time. Created eight years ago by Prince Harry of England and reserved for soldiers with current or previous disabilities.

Master Corporal First Class Thomas (CC1) is one of 500 athletes from about 20 countries and participates in the Invictus Games. Today’s top athletes are involved in four areas: discus throwing, indoor rowing, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby, and are the captains of these two teams. Invictus certainly encourages athletes to engage in several areas. If the competition is similar in form (category, event, international event) to the Paralympics, on the other hand it is substantially different. Above all, it advocates physical and mental reconstruction through sports, not performance.

Master Corporal First Class Thomas (CC1), a former sniper of the 3rd Marine Infantry Regiment’s combat company, was the victim of a motorcycle accident in 2013. He was 25 at the time. “It was my first vacation before going abroad. All I remember was riding a bike and hitting a tree early in the morning.” Confess who joined the army four years ago.

For two years, doctors at the Percy Army Training Hospital in Clamart (Hauts-de-Seine) tried everything to save his right foot. However, her infection continues, her pain continues, and attempts to save her fail one after another. After yet another operation that doesn’t go as planned, Thomas has to make a choice. “If I woke up in the intensive care unit every four mornings and didn’t want to end this permanent pain, I had to opt for amputation on my knees.” He remembers.

Then his rehabilitation begins. Immediately Thomas asks to associate the sport with it. “It was natural to play sports, Always a very sporty soldier says. He was an integral part of my reconstruction process. But recovery was a nightmare. I lost 20kg. I had no more power anywhere. I didn’t recognize myself. Then back, I didn’t impose any restrictions on myself. “

In 2017, he was well suited to return to work in the army and began in the position of human resources. At the same time, he joined the support system of the Defense Sports Center (CNSD) in Fontainebleau. During the athlete’s pre-selection, Thomas presents a predisposition to pitching, rowing and team sports. This do-it-yourself athlete has excellent adaptability and is comfortable in both collective and individual disciplines. “Before the accident, I was already telling myself that anything was possible, but I’ve lived with disabilities, so I’m repeating it. There’s nothing impossible. Ours There is always a way to reach that goal. “ Guarantee with confidence to Thomas.

These sporting abilities allow him to join a group of athletes preparing for Invictus Games. The purpose is to represent France in Sydney (Australia) in 2018. “But in the last moment I knew that the rules at the time only allowed soldiers injured in the army to join, so I couldn’t join in the end. This wasn’t my case. The news is very It was unacceptable. I was very tough. I was disappointed that I dropped everything for two months. ” He explains.

A few months later, the horizon is clearing up. This feature of the rule will be removed. “The coach contacted me again and told me I could join the next edition of 2020. I couldn’t believe it.” I remember Thomas, all the smiles. It has been postponed for two years due to a global coronavirus pandemic, and the fifth edition will finally be held from April 16th to 22nd, 2022. What are your ambitions for Thomas? “Do your best and enjoy the moment”, Reply to the soldier. Aiming for a medal is certainly a personal purpose, but far from the main purpose.

“Through Invictus Games, I would like to show other injured people who are still in the hospital or who are still in the Army Casualty Support Cell (CABAT) that there is nothing we can or cannot do. . “

Master Corporal Thomas

at franceinfo: Sports

Invictus Games is just one step in the journey of these soldiers. For Thomas, the story goes on. When the Invictus Games are over, he focuses on new goals. That is the purpose of the Paris 2024 Paralympics game. Thomas, who was integrated into the French sitting volleyball team in 2020, wants to take full advantage of this new opportunity. “Two years after the tournament in France. Come to think of it, you already have the honor and privilege of dreaming and expressing the colors of your country in your land. It happens only once in the life of an athlete. increase”, He slides enthusiastically.

A beautiful horizon that gives the course another relief: “When I relive the movie of my life since the accident, I understand where I came from and remember every stage I experienced and where it led me … today I Can understand how far he has come to the top level. ” And the high level it’s just getting started.