Personal Information

Family Partner Race Imboden

Occupation Athlete

Languages English, French

Higher education Economics - University Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne: France

License number 22081991001


World Cup2-911
Cancun (MEXICO), 2015-10-16Budapest (HUNGARY), 2013-02-08
Alger (ALGERIA), 2017-01-13St-Petersbourg (RUSSIA), 2013-03-01
Shanghai (CHINA), 2014-05-02
Gdansk (POLAND), 2015-01-16
St-Maur (FRANCE), 2019-01-25
Tauberbischofsheim (GERMANY), 2019-05-03
Le Caire (EGYPT), 2019-11-22
Katowice (POLAND), 2020-01-10
Paris (FRANCE), 2023-01-12
World Championship1113
Le Caire (EGYPT), 2022-07-16Wuxi (CHINA), 2018-07-20Leipzig (GERMANY), 2017-07-19
Zone Championships--44
Zagreb (CROATIA), 2013-06-16
Tbilisi (GEORGIA), 2017-06-13
Düsseldorf (GERMANY), 2019-06-18
Antalya (TÜRKEY), 2022-06-17
Grand Prix2-46
Turin (ITALY), 2020-02-07La Havane (CUBA), 2015-03-13
Turin (ITALY), 2023-02-10Shanghai (CHINA), 2016-06-03
Shanghai (CHINA), 2017-05-19
Doha (QATAR), 2021-03-26

Sport Specific Information

When and where did you begin this sport? She began fencing at age seven in Guadeloupe. She moved to mainland France to join the national youth training hub [Pole Espoir] in Aix-en-Provence at age 17, and a year later she joined the national team training base at the National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance [INSEP] in Paris.

Why this sport? "My mother took my brother and me to discover fencing. At the time, I was doing classical dance. I was truly a little princess. Initially, this introduction to the sport was intended more for my brother. It turned out I liked it straight away, and I quickly got a taste for competition. It became an addiction. Making a hit, defeating my opponent, I was no longer a ballerina but a fighter. In Guadeloupe, I got to a point where there was no more opposition, so I had to leave [for mainland France], to keep growing as a fencer. The federation put a little pressure on me on the subject. They said, 'If you do not take the step to come to France, you are putting your career in danger'. I wanted to be the best, so I left when I was 17. I had no family in mainland France."

Club / Team AS Bourg-la-Reine 92: France

Name of coach Lionel Plumenail [national], FRA

Handedness Right

General Interest

Nicknames Ysa (ouest-france.fr, 09 Jan 2019)

Most influential person in career Her family. (la1ere.francetvinfo.fr, 16 Mar 2022)

Hero / Idol French fencer Laura Flessel-Colovic, Guadeloupean fencer and composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. (la1ere.francetvinfo.fr, 16 Mar 2022; franceantilles.fr, 25 Jun 2013)

Injuries She injured her hamstring during the 2015 Montreaux Masters in Switzerland. (lequipe.fr, 08 Jun 2015)

Sporting philosophy / motto "Work hard and dream big." (Twitter profile, 28 Mar 2016)

Awards and honours In 2021 she was named a Knight of the National Order of Merit in France. (legifrance.gouv.fr, 08 Sep 2021)

In 2013 she was presented with the Bernard Destremau Award by the Institute of France. The honour was in recognition of the way she had balanced her studies alongside her career as an elite athlete. (escpeurope.eu, 21 Nov 2013)

Famous relatives Her partner Race Imboden has represented the United States of America in fencing, and won gold in team foil at the 2019 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. (Instagram profile, 17 Mar 2022; SportsDeskOnline, 01 Apr 2021)

Ambitions To win gold at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. (la1ere.francetvinfo.fr, 16 Mar 2022)

Other information POST-TOKYO BREAK
While she won a silver medal in team foil at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, she was eliminated in the second round of the individual foil event. This disappointment led her to take a four-month break from training after the 2020 Games, during which time she focused on her mental health. "When I lost in the second round, having won silver at the 2018 World Championships, it was a punch in the face. I was alone, I cried, and I asked myself if this five-year commitment for Tokyo was worth it. I did not want anything to do with fencing. I tried to return to training several times. It took me four months. I listened to myself, took care of my mental health, and assumed this period of fragility. Mental health must not be a taboo any more, neither in sport nor in society. Athletes are only praised because of their medals. They have to be strong, determined and motivated. They are presented to us as flawless people. But that's not true, an athlete also has weaknesses. There are moments in which athletes just don't want to do it and it's only their capability to manage these moments that makes the athlete a role model. It took me some time to heal this mental injury. But it made me realise that I need to talk about it. You should not be ashamed. We have to take care of ourselves on a daily basis." (francetvinfo.fr, 26 Nov 2021)

She met her partner, US fencer Race Imboden, at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. "If he offers me advice, I am always ready to listen. After all he is world number one [speaking in May 2019] so I imagine his advice is not bad. In general we make a good couple, in sport and in life." (Instagram profile, 17 Mar 2022; rtl.fr, 09 May 2019)

After finishing fifth in the individual foil event at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, she changed her approach to the sport, leaving her training base with the national federation in Paris, France, to relocate to Los Angeles, CA, United States of America. She has since spent time training in Los Angeles and Italy as well as France, taking an independent approach to her training. "My defeat in the quarterfinals at the Rio Olympics is the sporting failure that has changed my life the most, and in a positive way. I saw my opponents training full-time, so I decided to become a professional in an amateur sport. A few months later I decided to fly to live and train in the United States, in order to break out of the traditional system. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. I did not leave angry, and I remain very grateful to the French federation. I am a globetrotter, I am independent, I choose my training, decide my schedule, I book my plane tickets, I pay my coach, my physical trainer." (liberation.fr, 30 Jan 2020; femininbio.com, 28 Jan 2020)

She says she wants to inspire young girls and use her platform to push for greater gender equality in sport. In 2020 she launched EssentiElle Stories, an online space for female athletes around the world to share their stories. "Whenever I have the chance, I highlight women's sport around me, other female athletes because I think we all lack recognition and visibility. I denounce the injustices that still exist between women's and men's sport. What still displeases me is the vision we have of women in sport and in society. I've been told many times that I can't do it. When I decided to go to the United States, I was told that I was too sensitive, that with my emotions I would crack under the pressure, or that a man could do it but I couldn't. In the end, it motivated me even more and I have had the best results of my career since. Elite sport does not encourage solidarity among women. When we are young we are taugh


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