You should never turn your back on your destiny. This same back which allowed Axel Bourlon to embrace a path that was not promised to him. “Basically, I was not at all set out to become a weightlifter. I took up swimming to learn to swim and build my upper back muscles ”, says the athlete, who is about to play his first Paralympic Games in Tokyo, at the age of 30.
In 2005, his unique career took on a first Paralympic accent, when he met weightlifter Martine Servajean, two Games on the clock (Sydney, in 2000, and Athens, in 2004). The scene takes place at the forum of associations in Roanne (Loire), his birthplace. The one who was then vice-president of the city’s disabled sports club remembers: “I knew his handicap category was suitable for weightlifting, where athletes have shorter arms than normal. I first offered him muscle building so that he lifted small loads and that he could strengthen his back. ” He will combine the two activities for several months, before turning definitively to weightlifting, and the bench press in 2006. “It quickly took over. In the end, I still don’t know how to swim well ”, jokes the person, who competes Thursday, August 26.
A record at 161 kilos
His handicap is in fourteen letters: achondroplasia, another term to speak of dwarfism, “A rather harsh word” for Axel Bourlon, who is the only member of his family to be born with this “Pseudo-difference”. “I have always lived it well, I have always tried to mix with the able-bodied”, details the athlete of 1.40 meters. “He would have the capacity to compete with the able-bodied but ‘flexums’ are not accepted among the able-bodied”, develops Martine Servajean.
Flexum is the pathology that prevents Axel Bourlon from fully stretching his forearms in the terminal phase of the bar lift. An evil which did not allow him to compete outside French borders at the start of his career. “Global regulations required a maximum flex of 20 degrees, which prevented me from doing some competitions. Fortunately, the rule has evolved. It is now enough to mention it before the competition ”, details the weightlifter. He must wait until 2018 to participate in international competitions, with a second place at the European Championships.
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