Clemence Clerc was denied a water polo for her physical safety

A victim of a double cervical hernia, the LUC player was banned from continuing her career by the medical committee of the French Swimming Federation, with the latter relying on the potential risks of quadriplegia or paralysis of the upper limbs. Big shock for the 31-year-old who dreamed of the Paris 2024 Games.


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Although the Christmas holiday is generally festive, this was not the case this year for LUC player and manager Clémence Clerc who learned on December 24, by phone, that her career as a polo player would abruptly end. Without warning and without the possibility of saying goodbye. A decision was confirmed at the beginning of the week by the medical committee of the Federation in order to preserve his physical safety after he was diagnosed with a double cervical hernia and the risks arising from it.

I actually had a large hernia in 2015 that compressed 60% of the nerve, and caused massive radiation and loss of strength in the upper extremities.you remember. But I had surgery in September 2015, they removed the disc and I had no after effects, since then everything has been fine … “Until September when the young woman, by now the mother of two young girls, held her neck during an internship:” It took a while to unlock, I had some radiation in my arm but the intensity is low compared to 2015, so I didn’t worry “, Emphasizes.

Risky process

The doctor prescribed him for physical sessions and did an MRI in November: “ I fell out of the clouds when I was told of a double cervical hernia. The doctor did not worry, however, he let me play in the European Cup, then recommended that I take a month off as soon as possible to treat myself. But in December during my internship, I felt a huge electric shock in my arm and decided to see a neurosurgeon. »

The specialist’s verdict cooled his blood: He told me I was at risk of quadriplegia and recommended new surgery, but at my age, after several long breaks, I know I can no longer take a six-month break. In addition, it involved hanging four levels of cervical vertebrae on top of each other. “An option that a college of specialists finally deemed undesirable after discovering that the foramen (the safety mattress in the spinal cord) had been erased from both sides and that the operation itself was in jeopardy.

The first signs of depression

Pending the final opinion of the cervical spine experts from the rugby world, he was banned from playing until the end of the season. “ There is a 0.5% chance that they will give a different opinion but I won’t have the right to play this season anyway, and psychologically I can’t stick with that 0.5%. “, captivates the person who has so far been the only player from Lille’s workforce during seven French Champion titles.” It’s an emotional shock, the last eighteen years of my life have been defined by water polo. I felt the first signs of depression, and contacted the mental coach of France team because I didn’t want to try my family through it. »

The hero in particular does not admit that she is not allowed to grieve. ” I asked to be allowed to play at the last symbolic moment, at home to say goodbye to a club, for my practice, I was willing to sign a waiver of responsibility. It was rejected. But I do not give up and I hope that the Federation will support me to find a solution. »

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