Armchair rugby: After the Olympic flame, Montpellier Brice Maurel should participate in the Paralympic Games

Armchair rugby: After the Olympic flame, Montpellier Brice Maurel should participate in the Paralympic Games

Maurel et les Bleus viseront l'or à Paris. BM – BM

Entretien avec le joueur de Montpellier et des Bleus Brice Maurel (36 ans) avant la dernière manche du championnat de France de rugby fauteuil à Montpellier ce dimanche et à six mois du début des Jeux Paralympiques.

How did you react when you learned that you will be one of the Olympic flame bearers on May 13 in Montpellier ?

I was surprised since I didn't think I would be called upon. I felt immense joy, it’s an honor and a reward for the work accomplished during these 10 years of playing wheelchair rugby. I am proud to represent disabled sports in Montpellier, my hometown. I think of my son, of all my family who have supported me since my accident in 2013. On Monday May 13, my son has to go to school but his teacher told him that ;he will be able to go see his dad carry the Olympic flame.

After a major operation last summer which kept you away from the field, you hope to participate in the Paralympic Games with the French wheelchair rugby team…

I have been operated on twice for syringomyelia, a pocket between the spinal cord and cervical spine which causes neurological pain. If the problem is not yet resolved, we have agreed with my surgeon that we will treat it after the Games. I've been coming back since January. I did four training courses with the French team, the coaches did not expect me to find this level. I'm the first to be surprised. The fact that I was designated flame bearer made me even more eager to give my all and find my place in the team. I have to continue this momentum.

What does participating in the Paralympic Games mean to you??

There is nothing more beautiful about the Games, especially since they are organized in France. My family purchased tickets to attend the competition (from September 29 to August 2 at the Arena Champ de Mars). I can’t wait to be there and share it with the people I love.

With the French team, the reigning European champion, you will have chances of a medal…

We have reached a milestone in the last two years, we are one of the contenders for victory. We will take any color of medal even if we are focused on gold. If we don't manage to get to at least the semi-finals, it will be a big failure.

Imagine the impact that a medal at the Games could have?

For my part, I am focused on sports performance. It’s true that succeeding in these Games would be important for our sport, which we would talk about a lot. This could also help to change people's outlook and attract new people to this discipline.

This Sunday, you are playing the last round of the French championship with Montpellier handi rugby. This is an opportunity for the public to get a taste of the Paralympic Games?

There will be the best teams and all the players from the France team. This will be additional preparation for the next deadlines with the Blues. I invite people to come and see this spectacular sport which breaks down the barriers of disability.

French Championship N1 in Montpellier

Sunday March 31 at the Mireille-Bessière gymnasium in Montpellier

Program: Montpellier – Nuits-Saint-Georges (9am), Paris – Toulouse (10:45 a.m.), Montpellier – Paris (1:45 p.m.), Nuits-Saint-Georges – Toulouse (3:45 p.m.).

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