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On April 30, 2020, in the midst of quarantine from the COVID-19 and right during training, Jaubert Anouck, the leader of the French national team in the discipline of speed, received her ticket to participate in the first Olympic Games for climbing.
This quota went to Jaubert Anouck and the Italian Michael Piccolruaz according to the decision of the tripartite commission (IOC, NOC, IFSK).
After months of waiting, doubting and training, not knowing if she could participate in the largest sporting event in the world, the Frenchwoman felt relieved.
But the Olympic adventure is a long journey that has just begun.
And on the way to Tokyo, Jaubert Anouck, in particular, will face an unforeseen event that turned her training upside down: an ankle injury that caused her to undergo surgery this summer.
Now rock climbing, like other sports, is in a difficult situation, especially when the decision was made to postpone the Olympic Games in Tokyo. How did you feel when did you find out about your participation in the Olympics?
When I found out that the Olympic Games were postponed, I still didn’t know if I would qualify or not.
Therefore, I took this news detached and did not particularly react to the announcement.On the other hand, regarding my choice to participate in the Games, I received an email about three weeks before the official announcement, which said that the final decision would be made in late April / early May.
So, on the one hand, I was ready for bad news for me, not knowing the verdict, and on the other hand, after the World Cup, the situation with the quota changed so much that I had suspicions about it that I can still get to the Olympics.
But I did not allow myself to dream too much about it. I remembered what state I was in after the World Cup, how disappointed I was that I finished in 11th place, which meant that I was the first not to qualify (the first 10 places were selected for the final).
I was upset, I even cried, but in the end it was this place that allowed me to qualify for the Games.
I was delighted to know that all the effort and training I put in will finally pay off in the competition.
The Olympic Games have become a reality for me!
As a professional athlete, how did you get through the quarantine period?
Everything went very well for me!
I was visiting my friend and her parents in a village in the Haute-Savoy.
Yes, in quarantine there was no opportunity to fully engage in rock climbing, but I adapted a lot for myself so as not to lose the training regime: I had a pull-up bar, a fingerboard, several holds and Pan Güllich bars.
And the more time passed, the more new ideas appeared when I started tinkering with what was at my fingertips.
I was even able, with the consent of my stepfather, to attach a large ladder to the wall in order to climb it, imitating high-speed races on a standard!
Thus, I was able to maintain my physical shape, and since I was a child I liked physical education. I didn’t lose motivation.
How was your return to rock climbing?
The Pôle France climbing wall in Voiron reopened on 11 May.
So on the very first day of the lifting of quarantine, I ended up at the climbing gym.
However, the precautions remained very strict, and therefore in our team there was a tight time frame for training, because the coach could not have more than four athletes, and the mask was mandatory even during training.
There were many restrictions, but at least we were already able to climb.
But it was on the very first day of training that my ankle hurt, suddenly I felt discomfort, and after a few hours there was real pain.
I could no longer walk normally. The next day I tried to climb the stand again, but I was able to push myself off the floor.For about two months I tried to climb, adapting my training to the pain.
In addition to the fact that we were all gradually getting out of the “confinement” and the fact that I had not been to the climbing wall for two months worried me most of all, because I was already focused on the Olympic Games.
Saying to myself: “I cannot come to the Olympics in this state, I cannot! I can’t even train with such pain. “During this short period, I underwent many medical examinations, one procedure for abscessing inflammatory infiltrates, then repeated it again but there was no improvement.
Then I already had to go to the surgeon, who offered me to undergo the operation.
Surgery a year before the Olympic Games is a completely new challenge to complement your preparation. How did you react to this?
Yes, surgery was the only solution that seemed to be effective for my injury.
But when the doctor told me it would take six months to get back to my previous level of mobility, it shocked me.
It was already the end of July, and according to the doctors’ forecasts, I would be able to start fully training only in January 2021.
But there weren’t really other options.But then everything went very quickly: after my visit to the surgeon on Wednesday, a meeting with the coaching council of our national team was scheduled the next day, and next Friday I was already on the operating table.
In general, I am very lucky as a member of the national team, I work with Mike Fuselier, who is in charge of my climbing training, as well as Thibaut Leroux Malloof, my coach, and Simon Giraud, my psychologist.
Our team has a good climate and the four of us worked together very well, which gives me the peace of mind to cope with this difficult period.
How do you feel about the fact that in the 2020 season all international climbing tournaments were canceled, and the next season is still in question?
Of course, most of all, during the quarantine, I missed the competition and the experience of moments of rivalry, confrontation with other climbers.
We, athletes, train every day, precisely in order to compete.But now there are no tournaments, and this is very annoying.
I can’t wait to get back to the competition! But on the other hand, it’s even better for me that there are no competitions, because after the operation I would still not be able to participate in them.
Yes, and it’s too early for me to perform fully in the Olympic format, I don’t have enough experience in non-core disciplines, especially in bouldering.
The European Championship was a big goal for me, I had to check a lot during these competitions and understand what to look for in training for the rest of the season.
Therefore, I am very much looking forward to the World Cup stage early next year, I plan to optimize everything I have worked on.
Less than a year left before the Olympics, where are you going to focus your training program?
It’s simple: for me the main challenge is that I have to win the speed tournament in order to hope for any result at the Games.
Thus, goal # 1 is to run the reference track as quickly as possible in two qualifying rounds and become the first in the discipline of speed.
If I have first place in speed in my pocket, I am guaranteed to make it to the top 8 climbers and, therefore, to the final.
And it is in the final that the goal will again be in the discipline of speed, but now I will need to make sure that in difficulty and in bouldering, I will not be left behind everyone.
Most of all I put on bouldering, because in this discipline I can express myself better than in the discipline of difficulty.
Therefore, most of all I strive to consolidate my strengths, improve the speed race and, accordingly, do a lot of exercises on the leg muscles, but, as you already know, I can’t fully train now.
And since I can’t, then I had time to work on the upper body: hands, fingers, and I think that in the end it can be useful for my preparation.
During the long rehab period, I take every opportunity to work on new things before returning to my plan.But now all my attention is focused on the ankle.