THE SUNDAY GUEST. Richard Mailhé, guardian of the temple of Olympism in Occitania, “man of networks and fights”

THE SUNDAY GUEST. Richard Mailhé, guardian of the temple of Olympism in Occitania, “man of networks and fights”

Richard Mailhé, invested in the promotion of the Olympic Games, the champions of Occitanie, and the development of sport in the region. Midi Libre – Richard Gougis

Boss of the Occitanie Regional Olympic Committee, former police officer and lifeguard, the Montpellier resident has spent his life putting sport at the service of citizens and their well-being. A fight that takes on its full meaning in the midst of Olympic excitement.

In less than a month, at the time of igniting ourselves for an Olympic cause which, perhaps, will momentarily unite all French people under a neutral banner, we will not We will only have eyes for them: the sporting elite of the nation, in search of gold and undoubtedly messages of tolerance and diversity. This summit of the French Olympic pyramid should not obscure the very large submerged part. This entire sporting movement which fights in the shadows to democratize sporting practice, in all its forms and in all strata of our country.

Richard Mailhé is one of those who have worked for more than 20 years within the Olympic movement, president of the Hérault Departmental Committee (CDOS) then, for around ten years, of the Regional Olympic Committee of Hérault. Occitania (CROS).

The logical continuation of a sporting commitment viscerally anchored in the veins of this Tarnais, born in Castres then raised in Montpellier by his mother after an early divorce. In the public housing projects of the Astruc city and then in Lemasson, there is nothing like a destiny embroidered with golden thread. "Three months after my baccalaureate, I was forced to stop my studies and go to work in Pau with my father, he says. I then took the pilot exam in the army and then that of a peacekeeper. That's how I got into the police force."

Former lifeguard in the CRS

First a chief brigadier in Toulouse but, very quickly, this swimming and running enthusiast, French police triathlon champion, developed a local club (l’ AS Police) and is committed to sport, an integration and prevention tool: "I created in Cap d’Agde a leisure center for young people of the National Police and a nautical base. Future business leaders and elected officials emerged."

At the same time, he manages 32 people in the company of CRS lifeguards, "four very intense months per year on the beaches  quot;. A unionist at heart, in 1993 he became president of the departmental police social action committee and then representative of the region's officers.

"The unease is more and more palpable within the police, he deplores . She does not have to be loved but at least respected and there, there is neither one nor the other. After the Charlie Hebdo attacks we applauded the police and today we have a political fringe which almost calls for killing them…"

Advisor to Georges Frêche in 2006

It is this freedom of speech and the taste for combat that will command the admiration of Georges Frêche. When he left the police in 2005, the president of the Region suggested that Richard Mailhé become a collaborator in his office. First an advisor on themes such as security then elected as a community advisor within the agglomeration and the city of Montpellier.

"He often took me with him in his car to chat, which earned me certain enmity in those around him, says the president of the CROS. Frêche, he was quite simply a visionary who built the reputation of Montpellier largely on sport. Even those who wanted to kill him still talk about him today."

Richard Mailhé especially made a lot of noise in politics by supporting the candidacy of Mohed Altrad for mayor of Montpellier in 2020. "that displeased and some tried to make me pay for it, he admits.But I believe that politics is not for me because it is an environment where loyalty does not pay."

President of the French police sports associations then DTN of the national police federations, he will switch completely to the Olympic world after his retirement. First on the Departmental Committee then on the Regional Committee, first with Francis Sénégas then as president. He even achieved the feat of remaining at the head of the unified Olympic committee of Occitanie during the merger of the regions.

"He is one of those volunteer leaders who have always inspired me with a lot of respect through their passion for sport, their skills and their sense of purpose. rsquo;general interest", slips the senator of Hérault, Jean-Pierre Grand, who sees in him a "humanist of sport".< /p>

"A man of networks and combat"

"He’is a man of networks and someone that I appreciate despite his sometimes unpredictable side because when he leads a fight which seems justified to him, he does it relentlessly and always comes out on top, agrees Christian Detranchant, former president of the regional judo committee, who adds: "He listens to what needs to be done to move forward and knows how to delegate to last."< /p>

At 74, Richard Mailhé is preparing to run for a final term to complete his mission, the heart of which is "promote practice for all and in all its forms, equity between all disciplines and coherence in the development of the sports organization."

The Montpellier wants to continue his crusade for "the fair recognition of an Olympic movement which is still not highlighted, in particular by the policies." But he wants to go further in "developing solidarities to give a humanist function social and civic participation in sport.

Sport at school, sport in the workplace, sport on prescription: so many levers on which Cros strives to support with various actions such as the project ’ ;quot;work and move".

"We forget it, but Cros is also very active in the training of educators, managers and also, with Qualiopi certification, in CFAs in the sports and tourism professions where 80 % graduates find a job" insists the former triathlete.

He hopes that the showcase of the Paris Olympics will have a mirror effect to develop sports practice in France "including at school because we are when even lagging behind countries like Spain or Scandinavia. We should become a sporting nation and not just a nation of athletes."

As for the political clouds that threaten to overshadow the party, Richard Mailhé admits to being expectant: "Is that all this is going to take over with demonstrations, strikes ? I tell myself that we are going to have a great time when I see the enthusiasm that the passage of the flame has raised in the region and throughout France. Who would have predicted it two months ago ?"

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