14 July 2023

Enleightening : The voices of Charléty

No spinning red chairs in Charléty. The PARIS’23’s Worlds already found their voice, or rathertheir voices. We met two of them before the evening session: Hélène already holding the micin Lyon in 2013 and Valentin, whom you can’t miss standing 2m tall on the track whenever heis not locked up in the “aquarium”, the area above the finish line where the control room lies.

The voices have many purposes like creating a bond with the public, guiding the eye, showcasing the eventand its stakeholders, highlighting the achievements and building an emotional connection with the public in adiscipline where the show is simultaneously performed in all four corners of the stadium. They are a part of aten member team dedicated to entertainment. Among them are three DJs in charge of musicalaccompaniment, athletic information, entertainment activities or the ceremonies of the medal podium.

Alongside the speakers equipped with earpieces, the coordinator or “topeur” is the real timing boss, meticulously monitoring the “show direction” down to theminute, launching the presentations, integrating the entertainment sequences or videos on the giant screen and, above all, keeping to the initial timetable for the athletes andthe judges, bearing in mind the needs of the television channels that broadcast in specific slots. Improvisation is not really welcome. In addition to watching competitions andtalking to the French team staff, to be effective, Valentin, Hélène and all the speakers produce a meticulous work of statistics two or three hours before eachsession: research on the athletes, records, best performances, anecdotes… This preparation enables them to anticipate the highlights of the competition and better understandwhat is at stake in each event, while remaining flexible enough to adapt in real time to events taking place on the field.

Coordination between the “topeur”, Valentin and Hélène is as impressive as it is essential. They divide up their roles according to the key moments. This complementaritymeans they can react quickly and start over in case of a mistake or unforeseen event, such as a false start or a race incident. They know how to be creative,how to adjust their tone of voice to encourage silence in a visually impaired long jump, or on the contrary to keep the public involved when an achievement is on the line at theend of the straight. A specific feature of international competitions is the need to provide both French and English versions, particularly for interviews at the end. Moreover, theyensure to pronounce the athletes’ names correctly, which is sometimes a challenge given the cultural diversity of the participants, as in the case of Chinese or Japanese athleteswhose names are pronounced before their first names. Respect for the athletes who present them is paramount, as is the official naming of the Nations, as laid down in theprotocol.

Valentin and Hélène rely on their colleagues to ensure there is spirited and harmonious entertainment. This complicity enables them to create a uniqueatmosphere and to grant a memorable experience to the public along with great support for the athletes. Adaptability, fastidious preparation and passion are what makes themreal embodiments of the competition… Attention au départ !