At 21, rower Sarah Fraincart participates in the Tokyo Olympics. It represents for the first time Moroccan rowing at an Olympic competition. The young student trained hard with the France rowing center in Toulouse in order to best prepare for this great meeting.
Sarah Fraincart sometimes has to pinch herself to believe it. The 21-year-old rower is in Tokyo, Japan to participate in the colors of Morocco in the rowing events of the 33rd Olympic Games of the modern era (23 July-8 August). This is the first time that the Cherifian kingdom is represented in this sport during the Olympics.
A Franco-Moroccan rower
Born in Troyes in Aube, Sarah Fraincart has lived and studied in Toulouse for three years. She grew up between a French father and a Moroccan mother from Marrakech. Parents who support her « 200% and are very proud of everything that happens to me! » she confides on the pontoon of the Pôle France d’Aviron in Toulouse, which serves as a training base.
The discovery of rowing in adolescence
Sarah discovered rowing at the age of 14, during holiday camps organized in her home region. She was passionate about the discipline, graduated from the Société Nautique Troyenne, discovered the first competitions, team spirit and the first podiums, before moving to Toulouse to study there three years ago.
Spotted by the Moroccan federation during a family vacation
In 2017, during the summer vacation spent in Morocco, Sarah and her family made a stopover in Kenetra, a coastal town in the Kingdom. She randomly discovers the existence of an internet rowing club, one of the oldest in the country. And performs an outing with Moroccan rowers on the Sebou river, a story of fraternizing around a passion and keeping in shape.
His skills and performance caught the eye of the coach, who offered him to participate a few days later in an international regatta organized in Rabat by the Royal Moroccan Rowing Federation. Confronted with counterparts from Spain, Algeria, Tunisia or England, Sarah climbs to the top of a podium. She now chooses to row under the colors of Morocco.
Qualification for the Tokyo Olympics obtained in 2019
International competitions and perfs follow one another. In 2019, the single-seater single scull specialist shines in her discipline at the African Games (3rd place). The same year, she won the Olympic sesame for Tokyo by placing fourth in a qualifying continental regatta organized in Tunis.
This is the first time that Morocco has qualified in rowing for the Olympics. I hope to open a path, so that other rowers want to follow my example.
In Toulouse, a training partnership between France and Morocco
Based in Toulouse, Sarah Fraincart now trains in the France rowing center based in the pink city. Coached by Gilles Bosquet and François Meurillon, two former champions of the discipline, she benefits from a partnership between the French rowing federation and that of Morocco.
« Agreements are regularly signed, in particular with African countries, so that athletes benefit from a training structure in France, explains Gilles Bosquet, silver medalist at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996. For three years, Sarah has had the equipment she needs, she is followed by the coaches of the France pole, but also by the medical service of CREPS. She also enjoys the status of high level French athlete, with adapted studies « .
Studies in flexible hours
With two daily training sessions, regular competitions and increased Olympic preparation, Sarah’s boat and schedule are busy. A DUT student in Business and Administration Management at Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse, she is pursuing a course in flexible hours specially designed for high-level athletes.
Straight line for the Olympics
Sarah is in the home stretch before the Olympic events. La Toulousaine will participate in at least three races in its « single scull » category. Tests carried out at a hellish pace over the classic distance of the Olympic rowing: 2,000 meters.
Realistically, she knows that her chances of podiums will be low, or even zero against the armada of nations traditionally providing medals (Germany, Great Britain, France, United States, Australia, New Zealand). But the single sculler can at least be proud of making her Moroccan-colored oars shine on the surface of the water in the windy bay of Tokyo.