This nearly 18 year old college student, has joined the French disabled table tennis team that is attached to the French Table Tennis Federation (FTTF). Let’s draw the portrait of the person who is close to becoming one of France’s 1000 high level athletes.
In her table tennis team, there are 3 girls and 4 boys, all living with Down Syndrome. She goes to training three to four times a week and is learning to perfect her “hammer service”. Table tennis has always been a family matter. It was with her dad at about 12 that she first held a racket. In the club she goes to, she has a great time and everyone is impressed by her talent. “I love the place and the people who go there”, she says with a lot of enthusiasm.
Because Camille practices sport at a high level, she will be participating in the French championship in Gravelines, on May 20th. Camille also takes part in various competitions of the FTTF for non-disabled people and in February she was selected to be a part of the “Pôle Espoirs de la Fédération Française de Sport Adapté”, which is the section of the FTTF that fights so that all disabled people may practice a sport. To complete her laurels, she presented her application to the sport’s union for athletes living with Down Syndrome called the “Sport Union for Athletes with Down Syndrome” (SUDS) which will give her access to international competitions.
Though she clearly admits she prefers table tennis to college, Camille still carries on going to college in an ULIS1 class (specialised class for disabled students) to prepare a professional diploma to become a “food service agent”. This course got her an internship in a Buffalo restaurant twice a week. Both Thomas, her supervisor, and the team she works with welcomed her warmheartedly and now ensure her well-being and professional training.
In the same way as when she is with her table tennis team, Camille is happy working with her colleagues at the restaurant. She likes everyone and gets on particularly well with Elodie, who works in the kitchen. Besides, Camille has to admit that her sport diet doesn’t keep her from indulging in her favourite foods when she is in the kitchen: chips, ham, dried sausage… She is well surrounded at work but also and most of all at home. Throughout her childhood, her big sister Marie looked after her, taking her everywhere and even giving her gym lessons that Camille liked as much as her modern dance classes.
For Sandrine, her mother, Camille was always a source of great joy. She and her husband only found out she was disabled when she was born. It is only after they had carried out the various medical examinations, and understanding that the little girl had heart problems, that the medical team informed the parents. “They did not use the word Down Syndrome straight away. The paediatrician said she was a beautiful baby, that she would be love, and that she would be a little different with her additional chromosome.” So her parents took Camille in the way she was and ensured them that they would “love her the way she was”.
But was this paediatrician probably hadn’t realised is the little extra something this baby had: a great talent for table tennis!