Monday, September 24, 2012

"Metal Inside Me"

« Sound of footsteps on the edge of a scream »: the most representative picture I’ve made of my life in hospital.

[These words and this picture arrived from France today by email. I have cut & paste with no edits. There are two sides to every story, and this is A's - dh]

« In July 2004 I was involved in a motor accident in Montpellier, France »....

I was a motorcyclist and the other party was a (hire) car.

At a junction, I went through a green trafic light. Not too fast, but in a rush. I wanted to arrive home after a long shooting (filming) trip. I saw a car that was waiting to cross and I thought he had seen me.

Unfortunately the car moved, the impact was inevitable.

I was badly injured. But the injuries are less important than the road to recovery.

The English driver seemed not to stop immediately, but came back after a moment. Few months later, the case went to court in France and against the doctors advices, I came in a wheelchair to hear him. But the driver did not come and was charged very lightly because, at that time, the after-effects of the accident were not assessable. I could have continue the procedure but one warned me off that it could go on many years due to the required exchanges between the two countries. I decided to drop the charges, did not want my healling process hampered by anger.

First, the doctors said that I would not keep my left leg. Then, that I would never be able to bend it… but I had only one thing on my mind : rowing again was my goal! I am practicing this sport since I am ten and it taught me a lot about tenacity.

Twenty three surgeries and two years of physiotherapy later, my first rowing attempt was not really hopeful! So, I designed a special foot stretcher, very simple. And after some time and help, the footstretcher was improved with a modern pivot and springs! 

When I realized that with training I had a chance to be selected in the French rowing adaptive team, it was obvious: I have to go to London! This will be my « peacefull » revenge! 

The dream became reality, « London Calling » echoed in my mind!

When I bought some tickets for my family and friends, something unconscious made me buy some more…

Whatever happened that tragic day, I wanted him to see what I am able to do now! These races will be my cry : « I survived and you did not stop me! »

I called a first time, no answer. A second time, no answer … I sent the tickets anyway. You know the story.

Our team result is not the one we hoped for but we realized our best races! No regrets, and great pleasure with this amazing atmosphere and organisation.

And on Sunday, just after the Final B, a « Games Maker » asked me if I was the French rower who had a car accident ? I was surprised, and he told me that he read the story in Twitter. The « unknown » driver received the tickets in time, came to Eton, saw me rowing, and wrote a touching post. 

At this moment, I knew that I did not shout into the void…

I texted him, we met. It was the hardest day of my life after our first meeting. Maybe he felt the same way. Today, I do not know where I got the strength. I was prompted by something invisible to do it … I can not explain it, it was stronger than me.

I won’t lie to you, tears come every day since our meeting. But I am so glad to know now who you are.

David, you never stopped telling me how brave I am, I want to tell you that you had a great courage to face me, be sure of that.

« My fish-eye lens view of what happened is now wide-angle; with multiple ├ędits » 

It is true for me also. You are not the villain bearded driver of my memories anymore! You are like everyone else, like me. Our roles could be reversed. An accident can happen to anyone at any time, and it is difficult to live with it whoever you are, victim or responsable, that’s the conclusion.

After all these hardships, I understand also that victory can sometimes be elsewhere than on a podium. These games will be unforgettable and it is maybe just the most important!

Thank you David for asking me to write this ending post. I hope that it will help us to conclude this « British rowing accident » story.

Maybe our roads will cross again, but certainly not in the same way!

For sure, I have less weight on the chest, and I can now breathe in more deeply than ever for Rio…



  1. Made me well up. Both of you are brave.

  2. Thank you. I think he is rather braver than me.

  3. Absolutely incredible - the start of a new era for both of you.

  4. Tremendous story of human strength, courage and spirit between two comrades.

    Thanks for sharing it.

  5. Yeah maybe, thought that after I left the comment. But meeting him... still brave.

  6. I agree about the bravery here, in both of you. Certainly brave of you, in particular, to share such an emotional story. I applaud you and wish you both continued peace. x

    I've learned so much from your sharing this.

  7. As I said before Fucking Hell!

  8. Puts things into perspective doesn't it?

  9. Two brave and beautiful souls, as everyone else has said. My great respect and very best wishes to you, A.

    You too MrH, but I tell you all the time :)

  10. Wow, come for the great music taste, but stay for the amazing, wrenching story. This could perhaps be more widely shared at some point (it's the sort of thing that often ends up on public radio in the US, e.g., on This American Life. Does the UK have anything similar?).

  11. A. tells me he plans to make a docu film about it, so who knows P.

    Thank you for your messages all.

  12. It's been said already, but my instant response was... Wow!

  13. Like Darcy.....mine was wow!

    Thanks for sharing Davy....


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