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By Caroline.

Elvire Teza: a great Lady of Gymnastics.
(Special thanks to Catherine Inkster who did the translation)
If you had to describe Elvire Teza in just a few words it would not be an easy task. What would you prioritise? Her 7 years on the French national team? Her two appearances at the Olympic Games and 3 national titles? Her many innovative skills which have earned her a place in the Code of Points?
Elvire is all this and much more besides. We met her in the corridors of the Palais des Sports in Marseille during the last French National Championships. The meeting was as pleasant and interesting as the young lady herself.

What have you been up to since you quit high-level competition? Have you stayed in touch with your former teammates?
- Of course! For a start I share an apartment with Alexandra Soler. And then there’s my loyal friend Cécile Canqueteau. Cécile, Magali Ruffato and I are going to study for the brevet d’état.
Seeing Ludivine Furnon at these championships, does it not make you want to keep going?
- No, I think you have to know when to call it a day. You get tired, and the public gets tired too.
Did you encounter any particular problems when you retired from gymnastics?
- I wasn’t prepared for the loneliness. It was hard at university. The students put up barriers between me and them, thinking I was still an elite athlete. It took a lot of time and a lot of talking. Things are better now, but it’s true that my best friends are still in gymnastics.
Going back to your career, 7 years on the national team, 2 Olympic Games, to what do you attribute this longevity?
- Above all to some very good coaches and a good team of advisers.
What was it that motivated you for all those years? The sport itself, the travel and competitions? The medals? What was the biggest sacrifice you had to make for the sport?
- Living far away from my parents, only seeing them twice a year. When my dad died I realized that I had barely seen him in 6 years.
And if, in the future, your children wanted to do elite sport, would you encourage them?
- Above all I will just encourage them to do sport. Now if they want to do elite sport I will warn them about the bad parts and it will be up to them to discover the good parts for themselves. Then they’ll realize that the harder it is, the more satisfying it is when you succeed. It’s this work ethic that I would like to pass on to them more than anything.
In connection with this, what is your best memory?
- I wouldn’t say I have one best memory but rather several best memories! The Olympics, of course. The first ones because they were the first, the last because that’s where I had my best performance. But all the other competitions as well. They are all unique as a result of their atmosphere and the people you meet there.
Was there any moment when you nearly gave it all up and if so what was it that made you hang in there?
- There were some very difficult times: the death of my father, but I knew his dream was to see me make it to Sydney. Likewise, after Atlanta I lost a lot of motivation: I had achieved my goal. Fortunately my coaches were able to bring me down to earth, explaining that I had to get back to work as I would not receive any preferential treatment. In the aftermath I won the national championships, then the American Cup and I was back in the swing of things.

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