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“I want bitches, bitches”: in Marseille, the trial of high-level gymnastics training methods

“Have you ever seen an elephant do a double stretched on the ground”, “I want whores on the beams or the apparatus”, “You’re weak, you’re not a warrior”, “You’re so heavy, you’ll make a hole in the floor”… These insults thrown at the training of young gymnasts from the Pôle France and Espoir degymnastics de Marseille, one of the high-level training places in French gymnasium, Vincent Pateau, 44, technical director, challenged them on Friday March 31 before the criminal court. This renowned trainer admitted to having sometimes used vulgarity in his training methods or made inappropriate remarks to the children aged 11, 12 and 13 whom he supervised. But he disputed the moral harassment for which he was judged.

Prosecutor Véronique Fabron, who requested against him fifteen months suspended prison sentence and a ban on exercising his professional activity for a period left to the discretion of the court, welcomed that “the training methods of gymnasts are entering the courtroom because harassment in high-level sport remains a taboo”.

For a long day, Vincent Pateau was confronted with three young girls with vanished dreams of the Olympic Games, who had come to explain to the court the hardness of training for five hours a day, the tyranny of a fitness weight not to exceed 300 grams, wounds that must be concealed. Two versions of a ruthless world and a complex justice issue that the president of the court, Julie Lacombe, summarized from the outset: “We must not confuse the demands, the sacrifices of high-level sport and the behaviors that can affect the health of gymnasts. »

Aged 17 today, Coline went to the Pole with a lump in her stomach, crying every morning in her mother’s car. “The hardest thing is the words repeated for a year and a half”she says. “I have never seen such big shit in my career, we will start again until 9 p.m. if necessary”, threw the coach to them. But “it’s also attitudes like when you’re left on the rigging looking at you without saying anything, arms crossed. We understand that what we are doing is not worth anything..

The mother of Ines, another young gymnast, tells how her daughter wrapped herself in cellophane at night to sweat in order to lose the extra grams. Haunted by her weight, Ines evokes humiliations: “Look at you, I’ve never had a pig like you. » Vincent Pateau recontextualizes. “Yeah, I said ‘the work you do looks like a little pig.’ » If he recognizes shouting, swearing or throwing at children “I want bitches, bitches”he especially wants to convince that he has no “never insulted in the face” a young gymnast.

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