Adib El Sarakbi suffers from right-sided hemiplegia due to a birth complication with persistent consequences. He has just acquired a Life is good high-level horse with which he intends to qualify for the European Championships next year before aiming for the Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024.
When and how did you start skating?
My mother was a horsewoman, I went with her to the stable, she put me in diapers on the back of a horse. I started competing at about twelve years old. Then I did show jumping and later became an instructor. I went through the training program in the dressage stable, so I started to practice this discipline, competed in competitions with healthy ones … It was my mentor who learned about parade dressage and directed me in this direction. Thus began the adventure and I took part in my first French para-dressage championship in 2005.
What impact does sport have on your personal life?
Due to the Paris 2024 Paralympics, I asked my employer to work part-time because I don’t live off my passion. I have to work. I am the owner of a large luxury cosmetics company. So much so that this project had a direct impact on my personal life.
How was this transition to the highest level?
I first got into the French national team during the 2007 World Cup. I participated in my first French championship in 2005 when I was 24 years old. In riding, you can become an athlete quite late … At that time it was riding for the disabled, now we call this discipline para-dressage.
Your outstanding sports memory?
It is special because my most vivid memory is the reflection of a person whom I did not know and whom I met at a party. She asked me why I put myself in danger by playing sports. For her, there was no place for a disabled person in the sports arena.
I could tell from the way she spoke that she was afraid for me, it wasn’t necessarily intolerance, it was ignorance… But this question challenged me. And strengthened me in my commitment. In fact, I once invited this man to come to training and he was amazed to see what a disabled athlete is capable of…
Your iconic champion?
For me, it’s Teddy Riner. He achieves excellence in his performances, in judo and in communicating with people … He gathered a team around him … This is my vision of a high level … The duty to be exemplary, to represent the nation … To bring maximum positive …
What do you like about your discipline and why is it unique?
Our discipline is seen as an individual discipline, and I am trying to demonstrate through the activities I do in the schools in my department that this is not the case. Because we have a partner, a horse, which is necessary for our preparation. The relationship between rider and horse is fundamental. We form a couple. We are responsible for the animal and its welfare. This participation is very conducive to productivity.
Especially in a dressage parade where the horse has to show a special ability to adapt to the rider’s handicap… But not all horses are able to accept the handicap…
What do you think about when in doubt?
This is a sport where you challenge yourself every day. Firstly, because we work with an animal that looks like us, one day everything is fine, the next it is worse. Our role is to calm the horse. Accompany him. Because you can’t force a horse weighing 600 kg. It’s a relationship of trust, we’re not on a bike, we’re on a living being… that’s the magic of this sport… The horse is an integral part of our performance… which brings a lot of humility. .. Especially since “in a dressage parade we can only finance one horse, so this is really our brainchild…
What is your forte?
My strength is my sensitivity… It is also my weakness…
What is a typical day for you?
My typical day is very monotonous. I train from Monday to Sunday. I work from 8 am to 12 pm. Then I go home. I live in the countryside near Orleans. So, I put on shorts, a pair of basketball shoes… and went for a 45-minute cardio or muscle strengthening workout. At 13:30 I have lunch. It is quite light, usually a salad. Then I give myself a half hour break during which I try to clear my mind… Then around 2:30 pm I return to my training ground. I have half an hour drive. I find my trainers (equestrian coach: Elodie Lambolez, psychology coach: Guillaume Leroy) and my horse… We work for an hour and a half… From 16:30 to 17:30 we sum up the training and I train the horse… Finally, I I’m going to the municipal pool. I get there around 6pm. I swim for 1 hour and finally go home at 8pm… Those were good days… This is my usual program from Monday to Friday. I don’t work on Saturdays, but I do the same without swimming. And on Sundays I don’t go horseback riding.
How do you imagine yourself in twenty years?
I would like to pass on my knowledge. It is important for me to share my knowledge with young athletes…
What does the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games mean for your career?
It will be magical… I can’t define it because I stay focused on my performances and my daily work so as not to get too carried away… The first goal is to qualify for the Games and then a medal… But I know it will be magical.
How are you preparing for the Paralympic Games? Is it really a special event compared to other competitions?
Absolutely. I became a professional to prepare for these Games. I would not have this schedule if it were not for the preparations for the Games in Paris in 2024… Here we are both close and far from the goal. The magic is already there, we are impatient, but there are still two years ahead.
We are working twice as much as usual. It’s going to be crazy, amazing… I’m making sacrifices that I wouldn’t otherwise make. Finally, sacrifice is not the right word… My horse also feels that there is something special, because he is surrounded by a special professional world… He has an equestrian massage therapist, an equestrian osteopath, one of the best domestic veterinarians… On the other hand, we do not change your habits…
If you had to keep the value in the sport that is dear to you?
Sharing and sharing…
Do you have another passion?
I have a wonderful wife… she is my second passion.
How important is the support of your partner Banque Populaire Val de France in your life as a high level athlete?
In fact, I was already immersed in the Banque Populaire universe because I was lucky enough to be selected and supported by the Banque Populaire Foundation as part of their support program for people with disabilities who have a high-level sports project.
And from now on, I am already very proud to represent my patron Banque Populaire Val de France, his values through my discipline, paradressing and high level.
This allows me to professionally engage in amateur sports. Thanks to this help, I have the opportunity to live off my sport in terms of achieving results. Otherwise, this would not have happened, especially since equestrian sport is an expensive sport … Tomorrow my partners are leaving me … Everything stops.
The goal remains to select a French team that will eventually win one or more medals at the 2024 Paralympics in Paris.