Fourteen athletes from the French defence ministry are taking part in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games whose events started yesterday, 8 September. This is an unprecedented rate of participation accounting for 11% of the whole French delegation compared to Beijing 2008 when there was only one impaired athlete from the defence ministry and in London 2012 when there were only five.
The flag carrier and “cheer-leader” in chief is Michaël Jérémiasz, a four times medal winner in wheelchair tennis. Like all the other defence athletes, except for one, Jérémiasz is a civilian contract employee of the defence ministry. The only athlete with a military status is Rémy Boulle who is an air force corporal and a canoeist.
The athletes all come under one of the following three major handicap categories:
- Physically handicapped : amputees, with lesions to the spinal column, cerebral palsy, etc.
- Blind and visually impaired
- Mentally handicapped: significant intellectual alteration indicated by an I.Q. of under 75 detected before the athlete’s 18th birthday.
To compete on a fair basis, the athletes are classified by medical and technical staff who evaluate the impact of their impairment on a given sport. A classification system is thus established for each sport according to its specificities and of the consequences of the handicap on the athlete’s functional capacities in terms of movement, coordination and balance, more than by type of impairment.
Categories are designated by a letter, generally the initial of the sport (S for swimming, T pour track for example) and a figure from 1 (the heaviest handicap) to 10 (the lightest).
Deaf or hard of hearing athletes do not take part in the Paralympic Games. They come under the aegis of the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD) which organises the Deaflympics, the next edition of which will be held from 17-21 July 2017 in Samsun, Turkey.
Here is the list of the French Rio 2016 Paralympic Defence athletes, their events and their handicap category:
Michaël Jérémiasz, 34, wheelchair tennis, singles and doubles. He won the Olympic gold medal in Beijing in 2008, and the team World Championships in 2016, 2012 and 2009. A skiing accident in 2000 left him paraplegic. (Photo credit: FFT)
Stéphane Bahier, 41, short distance triathlon, a new event at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, entailing swimming 750m in open waters, cycling for 20km and running for 5km. Category PT2 (athletes who can stand). 2013 World Champion, reigning European vice-champion. Right-leg amputated in 2004 following a car crash.
Mathieu Bosredon, 25, handbike, road race and time trial. Bronze-medallist at the 2015 time trial World Championships. Paraplegic since the age of four following a stroke.
Rémy Boullé, 28, canoeing, sprint KL1 (athletes who have no or limited use of their legs), reigning European vice-champion. Paraplegic since 2014 following a parachuting accident.
Cédric Fevre Chevalier, 32, shooting, air-rifle 10m and 50m. Category SH1 (functional impairment). Reigning Olympic 10m prone Champion. Born with Spina Bifida.
Stéphane Houdet, 45, wheelchair tennis, singles and doubles. World N° 1 2016, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 in the team event. Reigning Singles Olympic vice-champion. A motorbike accident in 1996 rendered his left knee inoperable and in 2004 he had his left leg amputated.
Yannick Ifebe, 24, fencing, épée individual and team, category B (impairment that impacts the legs as well as the trunk or the fencing arm). 2015 World team Champion and reigning individual European Champion.
Gwladys Lemoussu, 27, short distance triathlon (see under Stéphane Bahier). Category PT4 (athletes who can stand). Reigning Vice World Champion, bronze medallist at the 2016 European Championships.
Elodie Lorandi, 27, swimming, freestyle 50m, 100m and 400m. Category S10. Vice European 400m, 100m and 50m freestyle Champion, 2015 Vice World 400m freestyle Champion, 2014 World freestyle Champion. Left leg partially paralysed from birth.
Elise Marc, 28, short distance triathlon (see under Stéphane Bahier). Category PT2 (athletes who can stand). Reigning European Champion.
Cindy Moreau, 32, canoeing, sprint KL3 (athletes with partial leg movement), 2015 European Champion, 2014 Vice World Champion and 2016 and 2014 Vice European Champion, bronze medallist at the World Championships in 2015 and 2013.
Nicolas Peifer, 25, wheelchair tennis, singles and doubles. World Champion in 2016, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2009 in the team event. Reigning doubles Vice Olympic Champion.
Charles Rozoy, 29, swimming, 50m freestyle, 100m breaststroke, 100m butterfly, 200m medley. Category S8. Reigning Olympic 100m butterfly Champion. 2015 Vice World 100m butterfly Champion, 2014 European 100m butterfly Champion, reigning European Vice 100m butterfly Champion.
Moussa Tambadou, 24, athletics, longjump T38. Reigning Vice European Champion.