Chrystel Alquier, Aveyron wheelchair athlete: “sport allowed me to accept my disability”

Chrystel Alquier, Aveyron wheelchair athlete: “sport allowed me to accept my disability”

Chrystel Alquier, athlète ruthénoise paralympique de 44 ans, a échangé avec trois classes d'élèves de l'école primaire millavoise Beauregard. Midi Libre – F.MAYET

Trois classes de l’école primaire Beauregard ont échangé avec l’athlète handisport ruthénoise qui a, notamment, participé aux Jeux de Londres en 2012 dans l’équipe de France de basket fauteuil.

She was expected. Chrystel Alquier's visit to middle school students at Beauregard primary school in Millau, this Tuesday afternoon, kept its promises. It must be said that the Aveyron disabled athlete, former member of the French wheelchair basketball team which competed in the London Olympic Games in 2012, remains a model of simplicity. Frankly too.

Especially when she answers the children's first questions about the origin of her disability. "I was 22 years old (the Ruthenian is 44 today, Editor's note) and I celebrated the end of my studies in the evening with friends. I felt very tired and had vision problems."

Became paralyzed in four days

Two days later, Chrystel is hospitalized. "I ultimately found myself paralyzed, from the waist down, within four days. No doubt because of a virus or a vaccine reaction." This turning point in life will also be at the sporting level. "I discovered wheelchair basketball during my eight-month stay in a rehabilitation center."

A click. The one who reorients a life and makes the Olympic rings shine therefore. "In London I particularly remember the match against the United States. They were huge! I managed to score a basket. I was proud!" 

With her tricolor jersey flocked with the number 4 Chrystel confides that she was also surprised by exchanges behind the scenes – "in English" – with the Chinese players. "They said they had been training since the age of seven…" Another strong memory: "having seen the Queen of England during the opening ceremony."

Armchair racing

Also remains a disappointment as a competitor. "I stopped playing wheelchair basketball after London because I was going there to win when other girls on the team were just there to participate. But it was in London that I was able to meet my future wheelchair racing coach!"

Another discipline that the Ruthenian athlete began to practice with enthusiasm. "It’is very hard on the shoulders." Four years of training to, finally, participate in the Toulouse marathon. "I finished in 2h16 at the same time as the first Kenyan. There was a lot of applause which I also took a little for myself…hell. Sport allowed me to accept my disability. It’has become like a drug."

"I live with pain every day but I manage to forget it"

Now Chrystel Alquier, in addition to swimming, pétanque and fishing, rides horses with a suitable saddle. She will even participate, with her great pony Ondine, in the French championships next July. An announcement made with a big smile even if, a few questions from children later, the athlete confesses: " I live with pain every day but I manage to forget it."

Chrystel Alquier ended up giving the children some advice. "I never got teased or mean looks. If, in the street or in the supermarket, you see a disabled person, do not hesitate to offer them help. We're not monsters."

Chrystel Alquier has launched an online prize pool to finance her participation in the French equestrian championships in July:

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