Brice Guyart Retires – Calls out French Fencing
Psychologically and physically worn out by thirteen years of competing at the very elite level, two times Olympic foil champion Brice Guyart has decided to end his career at age 31, but he keeps a close watch on his discipline, whose current state he deplores.
“I do not want to hang up. I wrote a beautiful book whose end I wish were different, so I’d rather start on a new one,” he told AFP on Monday, after he made his public announcement during the Stars of Sport ceremony. Guyart was crowned Olympic champion (team) at 19 in Sydney in 2000, and won the individual Olympic title four years later in Athens. He is also a three time world champion (team), in 2001, 2005, and 2007. In London, his fourth Olympics, he was a reserve and a witness to the sinking of French fencing.
“WE KEEP ON DIGGING OURSELVES DEEPER IN A HOLE”
The 2012 Olympics which France “nailed” without a single medal, a first since 1960, happened for a reason. Guyart lived through them as an ordeal. “I was totally lost,” said the man who had qualified for his fourth Olympics as a reserve. Both in the locker room and in the press box, as a commentator, “I could not connect with the squad.” He said, “They were in a bubble, which is normal, but in a bubble of negativism. One could sense doubt and especially the fear of making mistakes outweighed the desire to succeed.” And then he continued, “The outcome was no surprise, it was not just a matter of bad luck. For the past 12 years, and especially after the Athens Games in 2004, we felt the team spirit that defined us was beginning to crumble while doing routine work.”
“We remained locked in our shell while fencing was getting global. We always believed we were the best. We did not grow in our own gilded cage, our work was a stereotype, we lost the feeling for the game, we did not know how to face the unknown, the unexpected,” he argues. Brice Guyart does not mince words. “We shot ourselves in the foot and I bear some responsibility. I also withdrew in my own cocoon for comfort. The problem was that everything depended on the initiative of the individual. No push whatsoever on the part of the federation.”
So, if he succeeds to be elected to the EC of the FFE BoD, he will campaign to “restore the proper role and position of the elite athletes.” According to him, the high performance level in France – showcase of the work clubs do everyday – “does not make coaches rave. At the same time, former champions are not much appreciated. When they conclude their competitive career all they want is to get out,” he laments. He expects a lot from this period right after the Olympics, “the current president of the Federation [Pietruszka] and the DTN (National Technical Director [Srecki] have requested feedback. But in reality what came out of it? We have not had/seen any action. This is is serious, this is a mess. We thought we had reached bottom in London, but we keep on digging ourselves deeper in a hole.”