“I have always loved the competition and the tiredness after a long training session,” says French para-athlete, Emmanuelle Morch. This athlete is getting ready to take the Tokyo 2020 by storm. The snowboarding accident that cost Emmanuelle her legs became the turning point in this Paralympic athlete’s career.
It has been six years, and she has mastered the game of Tennis on wheels, a game that she had not played before. An enthusiastic sportsperson, Emmanuelle was into horse-riding and gymnastics before; and despite the unfortunate accident she refused to give up on sports. As a happy coincidence, she met Jean-Pierre Limborg, who brought wheelchair tennis from the USA to France in the 80s. A single invitation to play tennis changed Emmanuelle’s perspective of the game.
I had a lot of doubt during this journey. I was not sure about succeeding. I had a lot of tough moments with injuries, exhaustion, and many questions like ‘Why am I doing this?’; ‘Do I really love playing tennis?’; ‘Why is it so painful to lose a match?’.”
Being a para-athlete and competing internationally, especially at the Rio Paralympics 2016 had put a heavy load of self-doubt weighing her shoulders. She says, “I had a lot of doubt during this journey. I was not sure about succeeding. I had a lot of tough moments with injuries, exhaustion, and many questions like ‘Why am I doing this?’; ‘Do I really love playing tennis?’; ‘Why is it so painful to lose a match?’.” Despite these crippling thoughts, Emmanuelle spurs on and gives her 110% in every game, while thinking of her supportive family, friends and sponsors.
After her accident in 2008, Emmanuelle did stumble mentally, but with the support and encouragement of family and friends she realised there was so much more to life. Emmanuelle says, “I wanted to keep moving on and the more things I was busy with the better I felt. That’s why I continued my studies and played a new sport during this time.”
I wanted to keep moving on and the more things I was busy with the better I felt. That’s why I continued my studies and played a new sport during this time.”
At 26, Emmanuelle graduated from her engineering school a year ago and is currently working at L’Oréal as a Marketing Project Manager. When asked about her decision to work, Emmanuelle explains, “I started wheelchair tennis in 2011. But Tennis is not my priority anymore. I want to build my future that’s why I started working in a company. I will play sometimes and maybe focus more on sports in 2-3 years to prepare for Tokyo 2020.”
It is not the situation that makes a person dispassionate; it is how they deal with a bad situation that makes all the difference. Being a professional sportsperson is not a simple task, Emmanuelle Morch with all her experience would know. She says, “Becoming professional at a sport is an amazing experience, but it is really difficult. You will have to overcome many obstacles. I think that you need to be passionate about what you are doing, know why you are doing it and be surrounded by people who support you.”