Une Histoire D’Equilibre

French three-time Olympic gold medalist Tony Estanguet has published his autobiography. The book, “A story of balance” (or, more accurately, “Une Histoire D’Equilibre”) is an account of his life in canoeing, how he got to the top and how he survived there.

From the early days watching his father Henri and older brother Patrice winning, respectively, world championship titles and an Olympic bronze medal Estanguet tracks his own progress towards success at two Olympic Games (gold in Sydney and Athens), discusses how he felt about disappointment in Beijing (9th place) and how he bounced back to win gold in London.

Estanguet’s book is an attempt by the canoeist to leave something of himself behind for the sport.

“Well, you know that as time goes on and new champions emerge, people will turn the page on you and forget who you are,” the charismatic Frenchman told me. “I wanted people to understand my story, to hopefully read some interesting things about how I did it, what motivated me and perhaps something that will also help them in their canoeing.”

The book is published by a small French imprint, Outdoor Editions, and can be ordered online here. It’s in French, obviously, but well worth a look.

Estanguet is the only Frenchman to win three Olympic gold medals at different editions of the Games. He has, he says, made an effort to avoid getting sucked onto the celebrity treadmill since winning in London and is concentrating on getting his post-sporting career underway.

“Obviously you have more recognition and that’s nice but the celebrity route is not for me. I’m happy to be recognised and to be able to put something back into canoeing, into the sport about which I still feel so passionate but the celebrity life is not my thing. I had lots of offers to do reality TV after London but it’s not me. You won’t find profiles of me in Hello magazine,” he laughed.

Estanguet is currently awaiting the outcome of a legal appeal by two other athletes who were disqualified from election to the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission.

A decision is expected in March and will reveal whether or not he’ll be inducted as a member, for an eight-year term, of the supreme Olympic body. Still only 34, some talk of him as a possible future IOC leader.

Estanguet is non-committal about where it will all lead but says he’s keen to have a voice in sport: “I have a lot I want to give back to the sport. I received so much support on the way, from my family, my coach, from friends, I’d like to put something back in.”

His autobiography’s title reflects Estanguet’s view of life at the top of elite sport and how you need to achieve a balanced perspective to be truly successful. “It’s about achieving a general equilibrium, in sport and in life,” he said.

There’s also a 52-minute documentary on DVD that accompanies the book and it tells the story of Estanguet’s quest for a third and final Olympic title.

Former International Canoe Federation secretary-general Antoine Goetschy, himself a downriver racing world champion who raced in the 1980s, and now a key figure at the IOC, said of the autobiography: “It’s a very nice book, an inspiring story and Tony comes across well. It’s an interesting tale for anyone interested in canoeing.”

This article first appeared on the Royal Canoe Club website and was reproduced by the International Canoe Federation

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