I'm a French athlete, Paralympic champion, and two times World champion in the long jump (47) and I am preparing for my 6th Paralympics Games in Paris 2024! I'm also the first French athlete to have won a medal at the French national able-bodied competition. I m grateful to have been able to travel the world thanks to my sport, meet amazing people and cultures, won several international medals, and still be the world record holder. But the most important for me is to generate a positive impact in our society. Using sport and culture as a tool to change the perception of disabilities and differences, bring people together, and fight for more equality. I am a deep believer that sport is a relevant solution that we haven't used enough yet to prevent health issues, improve social skills, and have a more positive impact on our planet. And yeah i am born without my left forearm and I have ADHD but who cares!😉 AMA!

Proof: Here's my proof!

And it's the end ! Thank you everyone for all of your questions, it was an amazing experience. Please watch the 2024 Paralympics and you might see me there ;). Might do more AMA in the future !

Comments: 31 • Responses: 12  • Date: 

BlazingFiery12 karma

Hey Arnaud, best of luck for Paris 2024! Can you give us some insight on how the events are conducted? I've always wondered about the insider stuff regarding such competitions.

ArnAudAssoumani9 karma

Merci beaucoup!đŸ˜‰đŸŠŸ Very much appreciated. I and we (paralympic athletes) need support so cheering are always more than welcome! đŸ€—
I guess you'd like to know some secrets which could happen in the village 😜!
As an athlete what I can say of the Paralympic Games experience (same for the Olympic when i exchange with my Oly colleagues) is that the village life is a wonderful experience.

So to give you the context you have more than 6000 athletes for Oly and more than 4200 athletes for Para in the village (a bit less because you often have 2 villages depending on where are setting the other events) plus the other members of the team (doc, physio, team managers for each sports, logistician, coaches...) plus all the volunteers working in the village plus all the people working for all services as every normal city. So a huge amount of people being here for the same thing, regardless your culture, your language, your ideology, your religion, you are here representing your country under the same rules for every athlete! No events like that exists in the world, it's unique and at first completely overwhelming and impressive.

Every athlete always wears clothes representing it's country, countries and sharing buildings and you could measure the size of the delegation by counting the number of flags floating onto the balconies apartments and floors, all these colors, all of these languages that you have never heard, this opponent look that you cross for the first time when you are heading to the restaurant.

Everything is made for you to be in the same and the best conditions as possible. You are sharing the same kind of apartments and rooms. Usually apartment you share with 3 or 5 others roommates and every room are made for two. Which is sometimes not the best if your colleague sneeze.

Everything is free, drinks, food, you have to be careful because you can eat 24/24 7/7 and you have food from all around the world to adapt to your normal diet. Food from Asia, Africa, Western Europe, Italian, French, Mediterranean, indian, japanese... you need to watch out because the games could be over before even starting!
The day before the opening ceremony is really impressive. All the countries getting reunited down their building, dressed perfectly ready to parade behind their flag in the stadium. the hundreds of bus and this crazy logistic to bring the hundreds of teams to the stadium.

The wait and effervescence climbing, the sound of the stadium and the public as you getting closer to the arena entrance.

All the team screaming the national anthem holding each other under the tunnel before entering, then hitting the track seeing this flashes, the crazy volume of the crowd, the excitation, the tears rising in your eyes and this sentence you are telling yourself "all this hard work for that" then sharing the same sentence with your team mate you are training with, try to catch the first camera and wave because your family, your friends your fans, the world is watching, feeling tiny as if it was not real, feeling tiny because the beauty of the Games are the deep fraternity, freedom and equality spirit, being that kid walking and realising its dreams and making proud thousands of persons., from your first coach, the person who believes in you, the ones who were there and told you not to quit, your mother who has always been there for you...

Then you are back again in the moment, wanting to dance and celebrate, but this is not the accomplishment, now you need to do your best and value all this countless hours spent to be here, sweat, tears and blood need to be worth it. It's just the beginning now you need to be as instinctive as an animal and express yourself at the best as you can, no regrets!!Â đŸ˜€

ArnAudAssoumani10 karma

And it's the end ! Thank you everyone for all of your questions, it was an amazing experience. Please watch the 2024 Paralympics and you might see me there ;). Might do more AMA in the future !

OsurukGurmesi179 karma

What do you do when you feel hopeless about a situation?

ArnAudAssoumani12 karma

When i feel hopeless about a situation i first need to be alone and i usually listen heavy music, or dance... Try too disconnect for a while and stopping thinking. Then i need too fill myself with positive energy from people i love. Go out, go seeing a movie or a show... Realise that not everything is turning around me and not being to hard on my self.
Be kind and it's ok to feel this way. Talk with people or friends.

travelquery6 karma

Are there any interesting developments in prosthetics/bionics for athletic use that you have tried or are interested in trying soon?

ArnAudAssoumani6 karma

So specific prosthetics for sport and bionic prosthetics are two different things because they don't have the same purpose.
I start with bionic prosthetics which the main goal is to bring more capacities on a day to day basis to the person who misses an arm. Things such as if you are a double amputee and you could have two bionic prosthetics then you life can completely change because you can shake hands, grab objects, glaces or luggage for instance, pull and push, write and draw (for the most accurate)... it gives you more autonomy which is why bionic prosthetics are really precious. So on a daily basis you could make things pretty much everyone can do but you couldn't even dreamed of.
For instance i have a bionic prosthetic than i can wear to ride a motorbike, to open the door when my right arm is already busy, too hold a glass and shake a hand in a meantime ...
The specific sport prosthetic as a more direct and simpler mission.
I have one or weight lifting. I can grab the bar, pull, push, be pretty symmetrical make snatches, bench press... That expands my capacity for being more balanced and more performant thanks to weightlifting
I have a running and jumping prosthetic. This one we are still working on it with an engineer and biotechnician, for finding the most optimal weight for having a better balance and a better inertia creation, still in the purpose of being more performant.

CanLiterallyGoTitsUp6 karma

Do you reckon you could have been competitive at able body olympics if you wren't an amputee?

ArnAudAssoumani11 karma

So this question i have it a lot. There is two scenarios:
1 - If I was as passionate about track and field and had the same burning fire in my stomach to improve and then compete, then I think I would have made it to the Olympics. I would have been a better athlete if I had the same dedication and will to be the best, because I would be physically more balance, I would run faster, I would be a bit more coordinated, I would be a bit stronger because few exercises like cleans would be possible to do. Adding that to the neuromuscular connections which would be different plus less injury do to less physical compensation, I think I would have been able to jump minimum 40cm more. My Personal best is 7m82 and i fouled few jumps over 8m20.
But the
2 - Is that only the kid dream is not enough for me as a fuel. Today discriminations, non equality of a fuel for training harder, to show that is possible and i wanted to one the first one to qualify for both Olympics and Paralympics in 2012 for London. The statement was to bring an electrochoc to the public by being as performant as able bodied athletes even bitting them with less. That's a powerful message.
Without this personal and intimate willing to change things i am not sure i would have tried to be an athlete in the first place because my life would be totally different.
It's like in Back to the future, an event changing in the past is changing the present and the future.

Quizaaaar4 karma

How are you doing?

ArnAudAssoumani4 karma

i am doing great. Preparing for the start of the season and qualification for the world championship of para athletics in Paris this summer - 8th to the 17th of July. You should take your tickets 😉 What about you?

SpaceElevatorMusic4 karma

What do you consider to be your greatest athletic and non-athletic achievements?

ArnAudAssoumani9 karma

My best athletic achievement, performance wise would be the french national championship in Bercy in 2010 (yeah it's already a while ago😅) where i jumped 7m82 and won a bronze medal. I was the first athlete with a disability who won a medal at a national able bodied championship (i don't like to point able or disable, that's still how it is)
I was behind the two best french long jumper of history. Beyond the performance the message saying it's not because you have a disability, a difference that you cannot think, you cannot create, you cannot perform. That an important stand point thanks too the performance it expanded to resonance of the message.
Non athletic achievement: I wear different arm prosthetics and i have some designed one. When i go too school or work with foundation, this original arm becomes a dialogue tools, allowing children and i to connect and go beyond our physical differences. we are all equal because we are all different


I find what you said about sports improving social skills very interesting and accurate! Could you provide an example of a time this rang true for you?

ArnAudAssoumani7 karma

Yes definitely sport improves your social skills as a human being. Why? Because it allows you to connect and interact with others regardless your social level, your language, your skin color, you genre, your disability; we all can play under the same rules which are supposed to be fair (supposed because it's not always the same).
Sport allows communities (such as in Kosovo for instance) who were fighting against each other to play together, talk again and close the gap between borders. "Play international" for instance is the name of the association i m supporting and which uses sport as a tool of social connection between communities in different countries in the world. They developed a method called "la Playdogogy" which allows the kids who plays to learn positive values such as equality women and men, solidarity... thanks to the game itself.
I could talk about it for hours cause sport is a powerful tool and solution for our society.

ArnAudAssoumani7 karma

you also learn rules, resilience, perseverance, fighting spirit, play in team, learn to communicate, feel and share emotions, dedication and hard work... fair play, respect the opponent, respect the referee and the rules...

CellBoth85663 karma

how you got into para athletics?

ArnAudAssoumani7 karma

I am born without my left forearm. As every kids I had a dream. At the age of 5 while watching for the first time of my life track and field I was just hypnotised by long jump. I was thinking athletes were flying. I turned to my father and said "when i'll be a grown man i will do the Olympic Games in long jump" and I always kept this little kid voice with me even if it was as utopic as being an astronaut.

My parents pushed me at the age of to in a swimming pool 😂 I've been a swimmer for 13 years. All the sport I wanted to do I was doing it regardless I have an arm or not. I didn't know about paralympics I just wanted to play the sport, which is why it's so essential sports can be accessible regardless of your differences.
I practice basketball, table tennis, tennis, than I eventually started track and field at the age of 11 (was doing 3 sport in the meantime) and discovered I was good in the event, I wanted to do itđŸ€·â€â™‚! Lucky me.

Ce7ce3 karma

Quelle est ta définition de l'art ?

ArnAudAssoumani5 karma

Wow question quasiment existentielle! 😅👍
Ma definition de l'art.

L'art est pour moi autant un moyen de dĂ©couverte et d'exploration, de soi, de l'autre, du monde qui nous entoure, d'un moyen d'expression et de partage de nos Ă©motions, de nos sentiments, qu'un moyen de description de nos perceptions, notre vision du monde, du visible, de l'invisible, de nos relations aux autres, de notre imaginaire, de nos rĂȘves de nos peurs, un exutoire et un dĂ©fouloire Ă©galement donc une langue que d'autres peuvent dĂ©chiffrer ou non... Un magnifique moyen de se vivre, de rencontrer l'autre, de toucher d'autres ĂȘtres humains en plein coeur Ă  travers le temps et l'espace, c'est Ă©galement un outil pour militer, affirmer son idĂ©ologie, provoquer, gĂ©nĂ©rer un impact dans l'opinion, questionner un ou des publics, permettre de changer de perspective, c'est Ă©galement un moyen pour changer les regards, tout comme un moyen de dĂ©connection du cĂ©rĂ©brale et mentale, pour laisser simplement place aux Ă©nergies, à l'Ăąme.

l3392 karma

In what way do you think that the prosthetic arm hinders your ability to be able to perform on the long jump compare to a completely abled bodied athlete?

ArnAudAssoumani3 karma

Hey l339 thank you for the question.
I've just answered it to someone else, you can check my answers to them !