How can sport help overcome disability?


Paralympic champion Michaël Jéremiasz wants to raise awareness and change mindsets through the amazing documentary We Are Human, which aired on Canal+ on Sunday at 21:00.

Did you know that a little over a century ago, people with intellectual disabilities were euthanized shortly after birth? Do you know Rosemary Kennedy, the long-hidden sister of the former president of the United States, JFK, because of her mental disorders? at 1h37, documentary we are human It aims to raise awareness about disability. He continues his sports practice with the common point of connection. Directed by Philippe Fontana and produced by the Beijing (2008) Paralympic wheelchair tennis champion Michaël Jéremiasz, this film is in turn instructive, impressive, relentlessly critical, surprising, multiplies lines of thought. For some speakers, the desire to learn more about certain themes is so great that it is sometimes frustrating.

Philippe’s ambition was to make a tool available to the public that tells this little-known story and gives the keys to understanding that sport isn’t just about packed stadiums and rich football players.“, explains Jeremiasz.”Sport is a powerful tool whose impact and power cannot be measured yet in our societies. It is a political and social tool for the disabled, it is a public health problem. This is what we wanted to say.This issue is even more important as more than one billion people, ie 15% of the world’s population, live with disabilities. We spent the first fifteen minutes very didactically recreating the context, especially from a historical point of view. height jumper Arnie Boldt, sailor Damien Séguin, snowboarder Amy Purdy…

The list is long and at the same time very short of these champions who are sometimes glorified with contempt or paternalism. “Too often, there are only two approaches to disability: either we are overly compassionate or, on the contrary, we make Paralympic athletes like superheroes.“says the tennis player.”But there is almost never a middle ground. We are not saying why access to sports is so important for everyone. Why sports can literally change lives High-end sport is just a niche.And it will always continue with the same faith and the same passion:Sport is first and foremost a means of freedom. Of course, the performance of both is impressive. It’s amazing how a blind man can run errands for ten hours in complete autonomy in the middle of the forest. But sport is not just about that. What I remember from my career as a top athlete is not only the performances and titles, but all the doors that sports practice has opened for me. Everything it has allowed me to put into my life as a man, to regain my self-confidence, to discover my new boundaries, to be independent.»

In the documentary, it’s my little story that serves the big one.

Michael Jeremiasz

From pioneers who were deaf before the previous Games in Paris in 1924, to the next, which will be held in the City of Light two years later, the documentary examines a century of sports practice through the prism of disability. To be more precise, the film starts with the individual Jéremiasz to talk about the universal. “In the documentary, it’s my little story that serves the big one. So there are so many implications to what I was able to experience, because I also had a desire to begin to go further than what I knew. However, there was no purely personal interest from my point of view, other than starting from my experiences, to give the general public a much broader reflection than a single person’s itinerary. For this reason, we have approached the issue from an international perspective and without limiting ourselves to a single obstacle. We wanted to have a more global approach.»

Real superheroes?

Above all, Jéremiasz wanted to avoid extremes, especially this approach of making disabled sports champions superheroes:It was necessary to clarify to us that for the 2012 Olympic Games, the British created a “superpeople” campaign to promote Paralympic athletes. As if we had superhuman abilities. It worked well, much better. But once that’s done, what do we do? And most of all, make us look like superheroes, okay? But how do we explain that sometimes it’s harder for us to find a job or go shopping than to win a gold medal. So yes, we can be top athletes, we can put on incredible performances, but we are also excluded from those who can’t go to certain places with their kids because they’re unsuitable and prevent us from entering. We can come to a nightclub with friends and not enter. I could give you a billion examples, lucky enough to have a pretty privileged life due to my low profile, so think for ordinary mortals?»

I can tell you that behind every Paralympic champion, like any human being, there is a share of neurosis and suffering.

Michael Jeremiasz

And the 2012 Paralympic champion concluded:If we’re giving a great performance, it should be said, not because we’re injured, but because our performance was insane. Our daily life is not as beautiful as you would like to see. Our daily life is not about showing incredible courage to win a medal and come back after a terrible life accident. What defines us is not glorifying what happens to us in a particular way. I can tell you that behind every Paralympic champion, like any human being, there is a share of neurosis and suffering. They are not superheroes. They’re just people who work hard to be successful. The rest are like you, they may have problems with their couples or children. Until we get people to understand what our sporting performance is, that we should appreciate it for a sporting performance. Obstacles and disability aside, the rest of our lives are vulgarity. And if you are not responsible for what happens to us, of course, you can make our daily life much more enjoyable and easier. That’s the point for me.Even if it’s already a gorgeous crossover, it deserves more than a 1h37 documentary.