This Thursday, September 2 at dawn, French time, Nathan Maillet, 22, will try to reach the final of the 100 meters backstroke. Suffering from autism spectrum disorders (ASD), the swimmer from Loudun (Vienne) dreams of equaling the performance of Alicia Mandin, the first and only French swimmer in adapted sport to have qualified for the final of the Paralympic Games (on the 100m breaststroke). It was in London, in 2012.
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Bertrand Sebire, the national trainer at the adapted para-swimming France pole, in Vichy (Allier) did not expect his protégé, whose development he has closely followed since 2012, to return to France covered with Paralympic charms: “He’s still very young. We wanted to see how he was going to perform at these Games and use this working base to prepare for Paris 2024. ”
Control your emotions and overcome the pressure
But the specialist believes in the potential of this born competitor, whose enthusiasm he appreciates. “He came to Tokyo to improve his lap times and especially to have fun, he swears. Its size (2.10 meters), its scale and its explosiveness offer it all the panel of the champion. “ On a technical level, he still has to seek to improve his “Swimming range”, to reduce the movements of the arms to save money, however, notes the coach.
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This hypersensitive will also have to control his emotions and overcome the pressure, which undoubtedly invaded him when he entered the competition, Friday August 27: in 200 meters freestyle S14, Nathan Maillet was not able to qualify. for the final, failing sixth place in his series. “He was very angry with himself. All the more so since he repeated the race in training a few hours later, achieving a better time ”, says his trainer.
A “source of fulfillment and pride”
Whatever the result of the night, this participation in the Paralympic Games remains a “Source of fulfillment and pride for Nathan”, observes Catherine Maillet, her mother, who was unable to come to support her in Tokyo due to health restrictions. Autonomous, the young man, who lives alone in an apartment in Loudun (Vienne), measures how far he has come since his first French adapted swimming championships, in Saint-Yrieix in 2009.
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It was there that he met Bertrand Sebire, “A decisive meeting”, according to his mother. On his own, he went to ask the coach how to integrate the French selection. “From there, it all started. For us, his parents, hope was reborn ”, she remembers.
At the same time, they realize that Nathan is able to learn to read, write and count, and that he wants to. His parents immediately engage in a daily learning process, ” which certainly helped him gain self-confidence ”, she continues. A confidence that is reflected in his performance: he became champion of France in 2016 and European champion Virtus (1) the same year.
A year later, he won the title ofworld champion in 100m backstroke and 100m freestyle. The icing on the cake, he won with the Blues that of4x50m freestyle relay. And it was in 2018 that he opened the door to the Paralympic event at the World Adapted Swimming Championships, organized by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
In civilian life, everything he has done recently has smiled on him. In less than two years, Nathan Maillet obtained his first aid certificate, his driver’s license, got civic service at a swimming club. There is only one place missing in the final tonight to fill him with joy.