The Fire burning

It’s been eight weeks since surgery. Thirteen weeks since I stopped training in January. I have been very careful and sensible with how I deal with my injury. Cédric Berrest, who knows me better than anyone in the sport, would certainly be very surprised with how patient I have been so far. It seems like I am getting old and wiser. Who knows?

Facing injury and dealing with it is probably the most difficult experience for an athlete and it is one of the hardest things I have had to handle. I can compare it to my worst athlete’s nightmare at London 2012 in some aspects. Why is that? Because it makes you doubt. Doubt on yourself. On your ability and capacity to achieve something again. You feel weak and terribly vulnerable. Your whole world collapses around you and what you have spent years to build seems to vanish.


I was scared and sad at first. Then I felt useless and shameful. And finally I got angry. Not a bad anger but rather a voice inside you saying “never again”. No one likes to be hurt and I am no exception. But doubt remains. Can I row again? Will I be able to push myself deep enough to perform again? Two weeks ago, as I rowed away from the dock, I didn’t dare to get to the catch. Can I trust my body again? I felt so rusty and unfit. And then, little by little, you get confidence. Your boat gets faster. Your heart rate finally starts to go down. No alarm is ringing. I can row, bike, lift weights and I can start erging soon. But there were still questions running in my head. Why do you need to fight again? Do I need to prove anything? I was down on my knees. I should be happy with walking. But instead I am fighting to run and even fly. I asked myself this question: “why are you doing this Julien when you face that mountain of work and hardship?”

And once again, I found my answer in a very similar situation as in 2013. I didn’t know if I had the faith in rowing anymore after what happened in London. While watching the races in Seville (Spain) at European Championships, I felt that fire inside me. I spent hours on that bridge overlooking the course, staring at boats and rowers challenging each other. I saw my French teammates and I intensely wished that I could sit in that boat. And I came back. It took me months after a year off but I came back.
Having my teammates racing last weekend at Spring Trials in Burnaby made me feel the same way. I thought of taking the ferry and watch but I couldn’t do it. I don’t want to be watching, I want to be at the start. I want to row again and get a chance to give my best. Deep inside, the fire is still burning and I start to pace up and down like a caged lion. That is probably a good sign.
This new life experience taught me one thing and gave me the answer to my question: I love what I do. The Beatles may have been right. “All You Need Is Love”.

So once again, I am back. Watch out the fire!


"The adventure goes one..."