Canoeist Denis Gargaud is revolutionizing his rowing technique for the Games

The three-time world champion, gold medalist at the Rio Games, Denis Gargaud who has a goal: Paris 2024. He who had not been selected for the Tokyo Olympics last summer has found a way to revive himself: a new rowing technique he has. working for almost a year.

Denis Gargaud imagined a new rowing technique © Maxppp / Daniel Schäfer

The French canoe-kayak slalom team has started its international season. There were 13 tricolor athletes in Slovakia for the European Championship from this Thursday 26th to this Sunday 29th May. Among them, the three-time world champion, gold medalist at the Rio Games, Denis Gargaud who has a goal: Paris 2024. France Inter met him during the Olympic training camp in Vaires-sur-Marne (Seine-et-Marne).

We have opened the floodgates of the Vaires-sur-Marne whitewater stadium, the future site of Paris 2024 for canoe slalom. Denis Gargaud comes forward and slips right in and misses a goal that is definitely hurting him. “In a canoe, paddle left or right because you only have one paddle. We don’t have a double paddle like in a kayak and so when we are little, it teaches us to choose a side. I have done my whole career on the left and today I am trying to learn to row on the right and the goal is to be as strong on the right as on the left, which is very ambitious. He’s a bit like a tennis player with two on the right and two on the reverse “.

The water is striking: it changes grip in a split second. Which allows you to stop turning when you go through a right door while paddling with your left hand. But the gesture is not yet natural for the athlete. “There is already a cerebral aspect because I am used to positioning my body and my boat with left support. Today I have to learn how to do it with a right oar. At the level of the gaze, at the level of understanding, mobility and proprioception, these are things that evolve and bother me. And on a physical level, I don’t transmit the same force to my boat with my left or right hand “.

A more common technique among women

A technique that could eventually do it Save up to three seconds on a descent: it is considerable. National coach Marianne Aghulon follows Denis Gargaud’s session closely ” It’s always hard to get out of your technical comfort zone. There he explores new sensations, new trajectories, new ways of doing a course so it is very upsetting. “Rowing on both sides is still uncommon among men but more common among female canoes according to the coach:”They usually stir on both sides, that is, they change turns. They’ve been doing it for ten years. Denis had also already explored it in a two-seater canoe “.

Individually, we did not try to adopt this technique too quickly. But this time it’s here! It even needs to be revived before the Paris Games. Gold medal in slalom in Rio six years ago, Denis Gargaud could not defend his Olympic title in Tokyo last summer, the ticket to Japan dodged him half a second during the selections. ” One of the characteristics of the great champions is to know how to reinvent themselves, to know how to question themselves, to set new goals. When we have won everything, how do we do it again? Or how do we do it differently? That’s what drives me.

“I feel like I have a second youth”

And at the moment all the lights are green for the 34-year-old athlete. “As I progress I rediscover feelings I experienced when I was young. So it’s very beautiful! I really feel like I have a kind of second youth because I’m progressing. While, at my level, progress was a small detail before. And there I feel like I’m moving forward during the session, it’s nice Denis Gargaud will have plenty of time to test himself in rough waters as the summer promises to be intense between the Cup and the World Cup for the blues.

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