AGI – At the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 he made history with the bronze medal in foil, the first ever conquered in fencing by an Arab or African woman. Now at 32 the Tunisian Ines Boubakri he wants to make history in Tokyo again, in what will most likely be his last Games. It is a responsibility towards the sports movement of his country but above all towards the many young Arab and African women who have been inspired by his example.
Daughter of art
Ines is a daughter of art: her mother, Henda Zaouali, had participated in the 1996 Games in Atlanta and her husband, Erwann Le Pechoux, is in the French Olympic foil team. In France he lives and trains since he was 18 but he has never betrayed his Tunisia, for which he also won a bronze at the world championships and is now in his fourth Olympic participation.
“When I started being among the best in the world people said ‘she’s Tunisian, how can she be so strong’ ‘”, Ines recalled in an interview with the BBC, “when I won the medal I said’ now I don’t have to try nothing more to anyone ‘, I deserved it “. The Rio medal had arrived despite the pain in his back and knee, beating the Russian Aida Shanayeva in comeback.
The bronze medal “I dedicate it to all Tunisians, but it is above all for the women of my country, for all Arab women”, said the fencer from Tunis after being defeated in the semifinal in Rio by the blue. Elisa Di Francisca, “I’m here to say that we believe in it, that women exist and have a role in society. The message also goes to young people”.
A great responsibility
Upon returning home, she was given a “presidential” welcome and discovered that she had a huge following of women who thanks to his example they have broadened the horizon of their future. “It is a responsibility to have so many little girls following me”, she said, “I also have a certain pressure because I have to show how you can get to the medal not only in sport but in life. It’s not that because we are African or Arab we cannot to do it, you have to believe in yourself, be confident and don’t let people judge you. ”
“For me it is very important that there is equality between men and women “, he added, unfortunately in the Arab world these distinctions are still made and people say ‘she cannot do this because she is a woman, but sometimes it is men who do not know how to do things that women know how to do, I want to stop this inequality “.
“I hear many girls who say they do not want to play sports because they do not want to have a muscular taxman and when I feel it I am shocked”, said the Tunisian fencer, “I have been fencing for twenty years and it has helped me to have a body that is always in shape. . You have to try many sports and see what your body can do, there is no need to reach the highest levels. ”
Projects for the future
By the time she retires from fencing, perhaps before or immediately after the next Olympics to be held in France in three years, in 2024, Boubakri wants to give back some of the opportunities she has had to the younger generations. “I have a Masters in Sports Psychology and can teach physical education, my dream is to found an international fencing academy“, he explained,” I think of people like me who do not have big clubs or federations behind them and who could enroll in this academy to improve their fencing and I could train them to participate in international competitions “.