Victor Mahon and Patrick Talom, two players from the Lille Rugby Club, have set themselves a goal: to reach Paris in twelve days and arrive the day before the International Wheelchair Rugby Cup final. Passing through Amiens on Sunday, October 15, 2023, they talk about their challenge and motivations.
On bike paths or along the side of a road, no matter the weather, kilometers fly by for Victor Mahon and Patrick Talom. With the strength of their arms and thanks to their companions, the two wheelchair rugby players from Lille have covered 120 kilometers in the span of five days. “Already halfway there,” they smile upon arriving at the Amiens stadium on Sunday, October 15, 2023.
Patrick Talom and Victor Mahon, wheelchair rugby players licensed in Lille, want to promote disabled sports.
The date of their challenge, conceived a year ago, was not chosen at random: “For the first time in the history of rugby, the International Wheelchair Rugby Cup is being organized in parallel with the Rugby World Cup France 2023,” explains France Paralympique on its website. The competition will take place from October 18 to 22 in Paris. “Taking on this challenge encourages people with disabilities to engage in sports and also calls on society as a whole to provide them with more support,” explains Patrick Talom.
Amid applause, the two rugby players kicked off the match between RCA and SC Le Rheu at the Charassain stadium in Amiens on Sunday, October 15, 2023.
To go from Lille to Paris, the duo follows a carefully prepared itinerary by Sam, a member of the Lille rugby team. “We also had to take on this challenge to show that there are still things that need to be done in accordance with the 2005 law on accessibility,” says Sam. “We are fortunate to have wonderful companions, able-bodied individuals who walk with us,” he adds. For several months, together, they have carried out several training sessions before embarking on October 10.
To convey their messages, the duo makes several stops at schools, town halls, rugby clubs, and a fire station… They share these encounters daily on their Facebook account, with videos and photos. “We left Gommecourt, we arrived in a small village and these wonderful people welcomed us for a drink,” recounts Victor Mahon. “Spontaneously, you stop, offer us a drink, and take the time to talk to us,” adds Patrick Talom. “We are very happy because here, we are truly in an inclusive society!”
The two challengers are still looking for volunteers to accompany them on the rest of their journey. Arrival in Paris is planned for October 21.