“When she is good, she does Picasso”: Marie-Florence Candassamy, atypical swordsman

Marie-Florence Candassamy, in Basel (Switzerland), June 18, 2024. OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE / AFP

Speaking with Marie-Florence Candassamy is a unique exercise. Speaking at the limit of a whisper, the swordsman excels in counterattacks and flashes… like on the fencing slopes. Friday June 21, at the European Fencing Championships, which are being held in Basel (Switzerland), alongside Auriane Mallo-Breton – silver medalist on Tuesday in the individual event – ​​she will attempt to lead the French team to a third consecutive continental title.

The Parisian of West Indian origin is a late-maturing champion: in 2023, at the age of 32, after having had the best season of her career, she won the title of world champion in Milan (Italy), she who had never been on a world or Olympic podium. “There are things that cannot be explainedshe admits. That day, things fell into place one after the other. However, that morning, I was completely asleep. »

Read also: Fencing: Frenchwoman Marie-Florence Candassamy, world epee champion

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Generally speaking, Marie-Florence Candassamy is an intuitive, allergic to any attempt at rationalization, whose game is based on feeling much more than on reflection. “There is a form of madness in his fencingsays Hervé Faget, national women’s epee coach. When she’s good, she’s an artist, she does Picasso. »

A reference which should delight the number two in the world epee ranking, who says she draws her inspiration from the arts she loves, in particular drawing, which she practices in her spare time. “To know which artists inspire me, you have to watch me drawshe slips, mysteriously. For me, fencing is art. I see a connection with classical dance. »

Rare words

On the track, the world champion says she sets traps for her opponents, the better to sting them, she who has mastered the art of the counter-attack to perfection. “She has the ability to sense her opponents, make them leave and give them unusual touchesinsists Hervé Faget. It’s very disorienting. » “I am like a chameleon, I adapt to situations, on the slopes as in life”adds Marie-Florence Candassamy.

This declares to conceive each match as a “silent discussion” between adversaries, “a sort of blade-to-blade conversation”, “a story to be built together, chapter after chapter”. Rare words in the world of high-level sport. “She is completely differentexclaims Hervé Faget with tangible affection. You have to accept her as she is and adapt to her. »

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