Olympic Games: Biterroise Océane Cassignol “hopes to be able to bring back a medal to Béziers”

Olympic Games: Biterroise Océane Cassignol “hopes to be able to bring back a medal to Béziers”

La nageuse biterroise vivra sa première olympiade. Midi Libre – SYLVIE CAMBON

For the first time in her young and promising career, the open water specialist will participate in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. An immense source of pride for the 23-year-old swimmer from Béziers.

What state of mind have you been in since your qualification ?

It took me a little time to realize. I took a few days off to break and celebrate this good news with my loved ones. Now that I'm back to training, I almost feel like I'm a different person and have moved into another dimension. I have already had the chance to participate in the European Championships and the World Championships, but I was still missing the Olympic Games. It’s a bit like I’ve finally become an accomplished athlete.

Top athletes often talk about the Olympic Games as a separate competition. Is this also your case ?

Totally. I have already won medals on the European and world stage, but the Olympic Games are different. I had missed the qualifications for Tokyo and I was too young in Rio, I absolutely had to do what it took to participate in this edition in Paris. It will be in France, at home, it was my chance. It’s in a way the fulfillment of a career and all the work I’ve been able to do since I started swimming. To be honest, it’s even a little unimaginable to think that we will have the chance to experience this moment in front of our audience.

How did you feel when you qualified ?

I knew it would be difficult, the qualifying races for the Olympic Games sometimes have a lot of surprises in store. Some girls manage to come out, even though they are not necessarily protagonists during the rest of the season. In addition, I hadn't done a perfect preparation, to the extent that I had some shoulder problems. Even though I knew I would be able to get this Top 13, it was a real challenge for me. So when I realized that it was good, I obviously had a lot of happiness and emotion. Especially since my mother had come to see me, it was something exceptional to be able to make everyone who believes in me proud.

An exceptional event also means great pressure. How to manage all this ?

At the moment, she's not here yet. I think it's more when we approach the event and we start the altitude courses that she will arrive. At that point, it will be important to keep a cool head and stay focused on what I have to do.

Do you already have a goal in mind or is it still a little too premature ?

I'm aiming for the podium and I'll do everything to get it. I imagine it must be extraordinary to take one of the first three places at the Olympic Games. But I don't want to put too much pressure on myself either, it will only be my first Olympics. I will give everything I have to perform and see where it takes me.

It is often said that an Olympic medal can change a life. What do you think ?

That’s true. The post-medal finish can be exceptional, especially since we have never had one before in open water for the girls. So it’s clear that if I manage to get a medal at home and in a discipline where it’s never been done before, it would be just incredible.

A word also about your next deadlines. What is your calendar ?

We should have a preparation course in Brazil or South Africa in April, after the World Cup in Egypt in mid-March. There will also be two other competitions in Italy, before the World Championships in June. These will be important deadlines, which will allow me to prepare well and gain strength in view of the Olympic Games.

You were received a few days ago by the mayor. Is it important, as a Biterroise, to wear the city's colors ?

It’s an honor and a real pride to see that Mr. Ménard and the people of Biterrois follow my performances. Now I hope I can bring a medal back to town, that would be really amazing!

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