“I would have liked a sign from the Montpellier pole, a phone call from the new coach”: the Kenza Chaal fight

“I would have liked a sign from the Montpellier pole, a phone call from the new coach”: the Kenza Chaal fight

Kenza Chaal rêvait de briller à Paris. Elle veut juste recouvrer sa santé désormais. SYLVIE CAMBON

Victim of several injuries, the Sérignanaise, who dreamed of the Olympics in France, will probably never be able to get back on a bike. She blames her Federation.

Kenza Chaal would like to understand. Vice-champion of France in BMX freestyle twice, finalist of the Worlds in 2021, 7th in the European Championships the same year, the young Sérignanaise, 20 years old, member of the France pole in Montpellier, has been fighting since 2023 against her body, bruised, and its federation.

She hesitated for a long time before speaking out in the media. But after several surgical operations, the dream of a sporting career gone and the prospect of one day ending up paraplegic, Kenza Chaal is no longer holding back.

To understand his situation, we have to go back in time a little. With the first “runs”, in 2016, the Hérault athlete very quickly suffered from back pain. Until an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), several years later, Kenza Chaal attributed these pains to learning high-level sport. The prospect of the Olympic Games in Paris makes us forget the efforts, the little injuries and the risks. ordered an examination, it was always psychological according to them", she laments today.

The descent into hell begins in May 2023, after a first operation on the meniscus of a knee. "I came back for Fise from Montpellier. Unfortunately for me, this return coincided with tensions within the pole and the French team."
Patrick Guimez, "who built almost everything in freestyle BMX", is no longer unanimous. Between him, the other members of the staff and the major players in the discipline, the dialogue is broken. On the evening of the final of the World Championships in Glasgow, in August 2023, the rupture is confirmed: Patrick Guimez is fired, with a simple phone call to his hotel room.

"I very much regretted his departure, things were going very well with him." But here again, Kenza Chaal does not take offense. "I said to myself: it happens (that a coach gets fired).& quot; This episode, which she experiences vicariously – although qualified for Glasgow, she will prefer to forfeit due to the noxious atmosphere –, also corresponds with the increase in physical suffering.

"One morning, in Sérignan, I couldn’get out of bed."&amp ;nbsp;The diagnosis is clear: disc herniation with compression of the sciatic nerve. After several hospitalizations, a minimalist operation – "without opening the back" – is decided.

"I would then have liked a sign from the pole, a phone call from the new coach Florian Ferrasse. But apart from the mental trainer, no one will call me" The situation will repeat itself the day after a new surgical intervention, the first one not ;rsquo;having not achieved its objectives. "I’one foot was totally paralyzed".

"Either it worked or it broke"

"This time, they opened me up completely (October 2023)." And, miraculously, the result is significant. "TEverything was getting better even though I wasn't sure I could get back on the bike. This is also what I said to the new pole doctor when he suggested that I go for rehabilitation in Capbreton: “He told me, you'll see, you'll come back right away. I accepted. Unfortunately, it was not suitable. And after a few days, all the pain returned (January 2024), my foot was paralyzed again. The doctor's reaction ? “Either it passed or it broke”. And still no news from the coach. My parents and I then decided to no longer follow this protocol and to seek the advice of a teacher in Marseille. The latter diagnosed me with cauda equina syndrome. He doesn’t want to operate on me. Too dangerous, I could end up paraplegic. That’s when I referred it to Florian Rousseau, the director of Olympic preparation within the Federation."

"Not legitimate to comment on the choices of a surgeon"

Crossed during the Fise in Montpellier, the former Olympic champion acquiesces. "For the French Cycling Federation, the priority is the health of the athletes. Whether it is physical or mental", he first indicated during our interview.
Concerning the Kenza Chaal case, Rousseau assures "that she was adequately supported by the Federation and its medical staff. On the socio-professional aspect too, with several regular contacts".

On the other hand, he refutes the young woman's accusations regarding the absence of calls from the staff in general and from Florian Ferrasse in particular."She was in constant contact with the Federation doctor, the person responsible for socio-professional monitoring, the mental trainer. And everything was relayed to the coach and the DTN (National Technical Directorate). Florian called him several times, I called him several times. rsquo;ve done it myself twice. Today, our wish is that she regains the integrity of her health."

The boss of the French cycling teams also refuses to explain medical decisions: "I am not competent or expert to judge. I am not a doctor nor legitimate to comment on the choices of a surgeon. I'm not telling you how to do your job."

Kenza Chaal will have to live with it. At 20 years old, he now has to think about what happens after BMX. When she was little, she dreamed of becoming a police officer."But because of my back, even that, I'm no longer sure it's possible."

I subscribe to read more

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

(function(d,s){d.getElementById("licnt2061").src= "https://counter.yadro.ru/hit?t44.6;r"+escape(d.referrer)+ ((typeof(s)=="undefined")?"":";s"+s.width+"*"+s.height+"*"+ (s.colorDepth?s.colorDepth:s.pixelDepth))+";u"+escape(d.URL)+ ";h"+escape(d.title.substring(0,150))+";"+Math.random()}) (document,screen)