Foil world champion Enzo Lefort, 31, is starting to pay the price for a traumatic sport for the body. To continue to perform, the Frenchman adapts his training, between physiotherapy sessions, yoga and physical preparation with a dancer.
“My body is starting to suffer from all those years of training very hard. » And for good reason. Enzo Lefort arrived in the French foil team in 2012, and since then he has only had vacations for one month a year. If, in football, Kylian Mbappé said: « You don’t talk to me about age », in fencing, we can and we must afford it. At 31, the world champion shooter begins to pay the costs, on his body, of a traumatic sport (for the back, the hips, the knees, and the ankles in particular), due to the incessant changes of support .
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As an illustration, take the European Championships last season (in Turkey, in June 2022). For the first time in his career, at age 30, he was forced to give up a competition because of a calf injury. His elimination in the quarter-finals of the International Challenge of Paris, on January 14, is also explained, in part, by the wear and tear of his body. “I couldn’t prepare properly for the competition because of ankle pain.he analyzed in stride. During the first matches, I didn’t feel much with adrenaline, but on the match against Cheung (Ka Long, Hong Kong, the Olympic champion against whom he bows), it plays a little, I feel small shocks. »
Lefort has, in addition, “a very generous, very physical style of fencing”, he says. With his large size (1.90 m), it’s not just the ankle that is hurting. At the knee, this area located just above the patella, the quadriceps tendon, is particularly stressed to cushion the lunges. In short, the sores accumulate, and in order to hope to continue at the best level, with, of course, Paris 2024 in sight, the Guadeloupean adapts.
“We are putting things in place on a daily basis that will allow me to stay on the slopes until I am 45he laughs. I pay much more attention to my lifestylet I do a little less fencing sessions than the young people. From now on, I need to feel good physically more than to acquire technical skills. » And his staff adapts with him. “We have no choice, we do according to our pain”explains his trainer Emeric Clos.
Instead of these few technical training sessions that he misses, the French shooter follows physical therapy sessions, nearly three to four times a week. A graduate in the field, he is aware of the importance of this care, and of what he must do to prevent certain injuries. Since the end of his studies in 2018, Lefort also has more time to take care of him.
More yoga, less muscleThis allowed her to indulge in a new practice, yoga, which helps her, again, to better understand her body. “Since last year, I have asked my coaches to incorporate this into my sports practicesays the team gold medalist at the Tokyo Games. I’m lucky to have a very understanding staff, so for example, when the guys do bodybuilding, I do yoga. »
Lefort practices vinyasa yoga, a dynamic form that allows you to gain flexibility and mobility. “Sabove all, it’s a completely different relationship to sport: there is something very benevolent towards your bodyunderlines the Frenchman. For example, when the teacher puts you in a position, he tells you that it’s okay not to get far. At first, it annoyed me because it goes against what I do on a daily basis. It took me a few months to realize that I actually don’t care about being a yoga world champion, but it’s there to help me. »
Physical preparation with a dancerYoga is complementary to the meticulous physical work that he does throughout the year. For this, the triple world champion (twice individually and once in teams) can even count on two trainers with different profiles. The first, Robin Hager, accompanies him for more classic work: bodybuilding, cardio and endurance.
But since 2018, French shooters can also benefit from the advice of another physical trainer, Armelle van Eecloo, who works more finely on the diaphragm, the opening of the hips, the work of the foot, ankle, etc. », explains Lefort. Dancer and choreographer, her eye « very sharp » allows him to individualize the work. « At first it was a bit complicated because it’s so thin that I thought it was uselessadmits the foil fencer. But I’m open-minded so I persisted, and after the fourth or fifth session I started to see progress in my body. »
Despite all this work, recent and recurring physical problems have led Lefort to ask himself questions. « These are things that I didn’t think about a few months ago that come into my mind with these physical glitches. I wonder if I want to hang on even if it’s not going well, or if I stop when I’m a bit at the top of my career. »
In reality, his presence at the Paris Games is almost beyond doubt. It is rather the after, which questions him: “Secretly, I would like to go to Los Angeles (at the 2028 Olympics, he will be 36 years old). This would be my fifth participation in the Games and I don’t want to let (Erwann) Le Péchoux alone to have its five Games (laughs) ! But we’ll see if we have to do things differently for that. »
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