28 November 2022

Dimitri Jozwicki, a passionate person who rediscovers his sport

« The step was a little high when you see the time of the first three. It’s a place no one would like to have, but it’s mine and I accept it. ” said Dimitri Jozwicki, after his 4th place in the 100m T38 at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. At 25 years old, Dimitri has turned this result at the Games into a strength. Meeting with one of the athletes of the French Handisport team.

© Florent Pervillé, 2022

Born in Nancy in 1997, Dimitri Jozwicki and his twin brother have always been keen on sports: “We started with soccer, then we quickly turned to rugby, which is the family discipline“, he explains. But soon, between the ages of 8 and 10, doctors discovered cerebral palsy in the sprinter. A discovery “that made me feel good,” recalls Dimitri. Initially, I was diagnosed as a lazy child, as I was behind in motor skills and academics. Putting a word to the pathology and knowing that it wasn’t my fault made me feel better. ” With this discovery, the Nancéan logically stops playing rugby to avoid any shock to the head.

It is thus towards athletics that he turns in 2010, when he discovers the performances of Christophe Lemaitre. ” With my brother, who has no handicap, we were watching the European championships and we saw Christophe Lemaitre’s gold triple. We discovered a passion and since then, we have never stopped ” says Dimitri Jozwicki. A winger when he played rugby, sprinting quickly became “an obvious choice” for him. ” I have a rather fast profile, focused on frequency and short efforts. The 100m imposed itself to me and for nothing in the world I would change my sport ” says the now licensed Lille Metropole Athletics.

“I discovered handisport in 2016 and it all came together”

Between 2010 and 2016, Dimitri played at the interregional level, in Lorraine. He then moved to Lille, in the North of France, to continue his studies. Passionate about occupational therapy, he went into medicine and considered quitting athletics. That’s when he met Julien Reb, his former coach, who guided him in the handisport movement. Dimitri remembers: ” Julien told me that with my handicap, I could run in handisport. It was a real discovery for me, because I hadn’t been there because I didn’t know about a category for me.

Once the handisport federation was integrated, Dimitri’s practice took another turn. The Lille Métropole Athlétisme licensee says: ” in 6 months everything went together. With a preparation adapted to my handicap, I quickly achieved good results. Afterwards, Julien Héricourt and Jean-Baptiste Souche, respectively Sports Director and coach at that time, contacted me to open the doors to the French team. It allowed me to compete in my first world championships in London in 2017.

Dimitri Jozwicki takes off from the starting blocks of the 100m, during the Handisport Open Paris. © Florent Pervillé, 2022

A high level life

Since 2017, Dimitri Jozwicki is therefore a member of the French handisport athletics team. An important part of the life of the 2019 occupational therapy graduate sprinter. “You have to have energy to keep up with me for a week,” he laughs. Each week, I work 2 days with the regional management of Hauts-de-France. The rest of the time, I have 6 training sessions, physical preparation and about 2 physiotherapy sessions. It makes my weeks quite rhythmic because I also have to manage my partners “.

A rhythm he has found, because he knows what he wants for his career: ” When I joined the French team, it was great for me. I arrived just after the Rio 2016 Games, so easier to integrate. And to live an experience with people like Marie-Amélie Le Fur, Nantenin Keïta or Arnaud Assoumani, it makes you want to have a similar career, to know which athlete I want to become “explains Dimitri Jozwicki. At 25 years old, the man from Nancy has his sights set on gold at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, but his goal is being built little by little: ” I put so much pressure on myself, unnecessarily, to qualify for Tokyo. From now on, I will proceed step by step. I will set goals to qualify for the Worlds in Paris in 2023. Then I will go for the podium on this same competition and so on “.

“I invite all track and field enthusiasts to rediscover their sport.

Dimitri wins silver at the 2021 European Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland. © Florent Pervillé, 2021

For the World Para Athletics Championships – PARIS’23, Dimitri Jozwicki hopes to be part of it. The competition will take place in a stadium he knows well, the Charlety Stadium: ” It is on this track that I experienced my first French championships, I ran many times at the Handisport Open Paris, so it is a track on which I feel confident. It is very beautiful, very fast and I have always performed on it, so everything is in place to be ready and confirm my Tokyo results “, says the sprinter.

Furthermore, he hopes that these championships will be ” a great window to discover Paralympism. I invite everyone to join me in 2023 and I invite the public to take their seats. It’s really worth coming to see us, because we are accessible and it’s the perfect way to discover disability through sport. I invite all track and field enthusiasts to rediscover their discipline through parasport, because this is the effect it had on me a few years ago “.

Find Dimitri Jozwicki’s list of achievements on the Bleus Handisport database.

Editor : Jimmy JOUBERT