An extraordinary champion and man
Frenchman, born on February 2, 1956
Weapon type: saber
Coaches: Augustan Paran and Laslo Sepeshi
Jean was only eight years old when he started learning fencing from Master Paran. At first, he did not enjoy fencing all that much, while his first classes were almost too much to bear. Coach Augustan Paran was very demanding, strict and persistent. He was a master of fencing technique and followed the principle "Teach what you can do yourself" in his work with students.
Jean's first big success came in 1971 when he turned 15. That year he won the French junior championship in saber fencing. He went on to set a national record, winning the Champion of France title 13 times from 1977 through 1992, except 1979, 1986, and 1990.
At the 1975 world championship in Bucharest Jean-Francois reached the semifinals, and in 1983 in Vienna he placed fifth. His first international success came in Lausanne in 1987, where he became World Champion. Jean is 50 years old. He is fully satisfied with the results he has achieved thanks to his persistence, willpower, self-dedication, and faith in success. And it was no accident. In the 1980s, Jean-Francois returned empty-handed from the Olympic Games in Moscow. He was the only one of the French team to return home without a medal. But this only reinforced his resolve and his blade.
He owes his ascent to his new coach Laslo Sepeshi, who came from Hungary to head the French national team. At first their relations were complex as it usually happens when two strong personalities clash. All their differences ended as soon as Laslo started coaching him. Laslo proved himself as a talented coach, displaying exceptional knowledge in the spheres of fencing techniques, tactics, and methods.
Finally came the long-awaited international success: Jean won gold at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles despite extreme fatigue and anxiety that nearly paralyzed him in the final bout. Only days later he fenced in the team tournament helping the French collect another Olympic silver medal.
In 1988, Jean-Francois was awarded the Master of Saber prize. Several months later he confirmed his superior skill in Seoul, winning Olympic gold once again and silencing his skeptics.
Jean Francois Lamour went on to be appointed as France's Minister of Sports. Sports and politics, where no one will dare call him Jean, are proof of his versatile talent. But this is an altogether different story.
Author: Gerard Siks
Translation from French by Ekaterina Pakuyeva