Wednesday, June 26, 2019
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"It's up to us to set our limits, not society"

Marie Amelie The Fur of France competes in long jump during the Handisport Open Paris 2018 at Charlety Stadium on June 14, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Aude Alcover / Icon Sport)
Aude Alcover / Icon Sport

AUDE ALCOVER / ICON SPORT

By Nathaniel Herzberg

I would not have arrived here if … "The World" questions a personality starting from a decisive moment of its existence. This week, the athlete talks about the dramas that built it.

Amputee of a leg at the age of 15 after a scooter accident, Marie-Amélie Le Fur became a high-level sportswoman. Triple Paralympic champion of athletics, she chairs, since December 2018, the Paralympic Committee of the French sport, while preparing the Games of Tokyo, in 2020.

I would not be here if …

… If in 2003, I was not invited to attend the World Athletics, at the Stade de France, in Paris. At the time, I practiced this sport as a valid and I discovered, during a demonstration race, the disabled sport. Men, amputees. When the teenager that I am comes to collect the autographs, after the race, they are with the other athletes. I watch their prostheses. How does it work, how to reproduce the same movement with a blade? It impresses me … and then I forget. But, a year later, when I'm hit by a car, the moment the decision is made to amputate, I think it's the memory of this event that allows me to build myself, despite everything, a positive future. I know it will be possible to redo the sport. Then, thanks of course to an exceptional entourage, to opportunities as well, this vision gave me a dream, an ambition, which allowed me to hang on immediately to something, and to get out of it.

The memory of the dream is brighter than that of the nightmare that preceded it?

Negative memories focus on a very short period. It is the accident and especially the three days when the doctors did not know if they could save my leg. The pain, the uncertainty, the future incapacity … But from the moment the decision was made, I looked in front of me and understood that the field of possibilities remained immense. And we advanced, gathered information, met people, took a very positive attitude, which remains for me the most outstanding. Doubts, we had some. Surely more my parents and sister, more aware than me of society's view of disability. I was protected by the carelessness of adolescence. And by the obsession to be happy and to make happy my entourage. I knew that basically, I was the same, even if I was going to have to work a little differently.

The same, really?

We are inevitably changed. But, even though it may seem huge, changed the right way. I was lucky enough to understand at the age of 15 some essential things: the posture to change, difficulties … It gave me weapons for the rest of my life. And then I met an extraordinary environment, that of the handicap. I had a wonderful human adventure that made me who I am. It was not the loss of my leg that changed me, but the encounters it provoked. It's not the handicap that ruins life, it's the way to live it. Mine is relatively simple, a leg amputated below the knee, but anyway, it's up to us to set our limits, not society. In life, there is always a way to adapt. It is not because we can not do things like the majority of people that we do them less well. But there is a kind of barrier of the impossible erected in front of those who do differently.

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