This Monday, February 21, Joelle Ravez is with Dennis Nutt, her volunteer coach, to hit some balls at the Loudéac tennis club in Saint-Bugan. In his chair adapted for practice, the first exchanges are physically difficult. “I just learned that I have multiple sclerosis and I had Covid recently. So I have four months to play, explains the 58-year-old player between two breaths and with a steel morale. I miss you. And then there is my reason for living, which has pulled me out of the water since my accident in January 2007.
A missed step on a scale and severe consequences
It is a banal accident on the stairs where she loses a step but with serious consequences. “I had multiple fractures,” she says. I waited a year before making a diagnosis, a right tibial. “They should have amputated my right leg, but they left me.” As a result, Joelle Ravez finds herself in a wheelchair with significant leg pain.
Nine months later, Joelle Ravez, who was practicing athletics before the accident, joined a sports section for people with disabilities at her home in Belgium, where she was living at the time. She exercises weight and discus there, two disciplines she previously practiced. And it paid off after becoming European champions in 2010 in its category. The other goal was the London 2012 Paralympic Games. “I did my best to participate, but I found myself without a coach,” she says. And then, there needed to be considerable oversight for athletes with disabilities. “In the end I did not go to the games.”
Arrived in Brittany in 2011
In 2011, with a change of direction, Joelle Ravez and her entire family, who once spent their holidays in Brittany, decided to leave Belgium to settle there permanently. It will be in Saint-Vran in Mené. No more athletics, his son will introduce him to tennis. In 2015, she joined the disability sports section of the Loudéac club. “I took the bait right away,” she recalls with a smile. “I really found a sport that I liked.”
It starts with one hour a week, then two hours and now four hours. Problem, currently, she no longer has a coach. It’s Dennis Nutt, an Englishman, who trains him on a voluntary basis. And she only plays with capable people. “The club has a sports label for people with disabilities, but it is not really used,” she regrets. “I am the only one who comes, but people with limited mobility are welcome at the club.”