At Trimes, we are self proclaimed president of the fan club of the sportsmanship of french elites world cup athletes. For a long time, we wanted to interview Tony Moulai. 2013 was an important year for him as he ended his career on the ITU circuit. We wanted to know more about what he had learned from those years and what he was up to for his future that illustrates an unconditional love for the sport.
> You ended your international career on a victory at the Tongyeang ITU world cup, I guess that ending up on a victory must have bring some questions as to whether you had made the right decision or were you really decided to stop?
I knew that the trip to Korea would be the last one of my ITU era. I had consequently put every options I could to make it a nice one. Rather than giving me a bitter taste, this last victory reinforced my decision. All good things must come to an end. Of course, it is important to realize that the field was not the most competitive ever seen as the starting list was not comparable with the one of a French Grand Prix or a WTS. I will only keep in mind a broad picture of these last 9 years.
> Elite athletes usually find it hard to move on to something else and even suffer from depression. How did it go for you?
I had a bad season 2013, most likely because I was overdoing things, and this ended putting more pressure as time was going by. I have to fight and question myself in order to get back in shape. Consequently, I have finished this season completely exhausted. A two months break was the best thing that could happen to me. I have done several trips abroad, which helped me recover as well. I have started training again about a month ago now, not by need but just for my own pleasure! Physical activity is a vital need I have always had. I was 7 when I started sport, I did some skiing, badminton, and obviously triathlon. Sport learnt me and gave me so much, a school of life. I have practiced sport on my own but sport also offered the possibility to meet most of friends. Nowadays, I have no outside pressure at all. I do what I want, how I feel it, with my own objectives. Even if I am still bound to my club of Poissy, I won’t race the Grand Prix because these races don’t correspond to me anymore. However, the club proposed me to race Abu Dhabi mid-march, and I am finding myself quite motivated to train and set a goal for this race. A triathlon with 100km of time trial is all new for me. This is why, I am trying to prepare adequately. I don’t want to be on the start line if I am going to be ridiculous.
Well, I am not sure that this is a good role for me. First, I don’t live in Poissy. I am hence not there to be in direct contact with them. Two, I am somewhat radical in my approach of high level sport. I find that we over practice psychology on the new generation. I think we should be more moderate in this area. When I see how much energy coaches put into motivating some athletes, I feel ready to become a coach yet. The distinction of approach between sport/ pleasure and sport/ performance is not easy to do with kids because they overlap. The best coach is opinion is the one that deals with the group, the different characters and motivations of individuals. As for the values, I am able to transmit, I would say that they can be read on my body. You can read it through my results, my approaches of races, the way I train. Those who have met me, in a close or distant manner, know what was kind of impression I was delivering through all this.
> So you are a sport teacher. Going back to work in september. Why not teaching triathlon?
My job does not consist in teaching triathlon. Maybe to let kids discover what it is. However, the conditions required to practice triathlon are so difficult to meet that I am not optimistic about this possibility. From a pedagogic perspective, I am more enthusiastic about teaching bike and run, which I think has a greater potential.
> Let’s talk about your career again. I had the luck to participate to the Olympic Games in Bejing, but you did not qualify for London. Does it leave you a bitter taste, especially since this race is the only one that has an impact of this scale on the general public and since most of them cannot understand that you could be totally satisfied even without winning the race?
A career is made of victory and defeats. Of course I was disappointed to do not participate in London! It was a real disappointment. Especially since I was so close to make the selection. But we all know the rules of the game before signing. It’s the law of sport. We can’t always control our fate, even if we do everything we can to control it. Sometimes, things don’t happen the way we want. If you look at what happened to Will Clarke and the english selection, some decisions are unacceptable! I found my salute in the fight. I have refused to let me go down and I have trained to keep a taste for more victories.
> I imagine that you would have liked to take a revenge in London. We have never felt you negative about your non-selection, we even felt the opposite… do you have the impression that ITU is wrong in putting all its efforts on the olympic games?
ITU does not really have the choice. Just like all the federations, they live thanks to the olympic games. If you remove the games to the French Federation of Triathlon for instance, there is not much left. If you remove the games to the ITU, many federations are going to become disinterested in the international circuit. On a personal level, if my federation had not been able to support me for all those years, in sending me all over the world to improve and be performant; if they had not offered me the possibility to be a pro triathlete, my career would have been completely different!
> Actually, these games almost make us forget about your multiple top3 in WTS… what kind of feeling does it bring when we talk to you of your accomplishments? Pride or regrets?
One thing is for sure, I have no regret. What for? It is too late to have some. On the contrary, I am proud of what I have achieved. I confess, there is nothing too extraordinary, I remain an average athlete from the WTS circuit, yet with a few highlights. Despite of everything, I remain happy to have lived an extraordinary life, in the sense of not ordinary or typical.
> You arrived late on the circuit, do you think it was a strength for your own development?
I was indeed ready for an exclusive practice of the sport. Until 2007, i did not know anything about the day to day life of a professional athlete. I had been working for 7 years as a teacher, trying to find time for training. As soon as I had obtained the possibility to stop working, I have become aware of my luck and I have never changed my attention on something else than the olympic games.
> Since Beijing, we have witnessed a revolution with the rise of the Brownlees, do you have the impression that the sport is in perpetual evolution? Did you feel you had lost all your chances of winning?
Yes, the level is constantly improving in triathlon. I did my first world championship in 2005 when Peter Robertson won. In 2006-2007, Gomez was overly dominating. From 2009, Brownlee. But I have only felt I had lost all my chances for the win in 2013, because instead of having one or two exceptional athletes as it was the case, behind the two Brownlee and Gomez, we have now Mola, Murray, Vidal, Silva, Hauss … who are very regular all year long. And behind them, dozens of very solid athletes. Just for France, Luis, Raphaël and Le Corre are gaining a lot of self confidence! As such, the next games and selections are going to be very fascinating! I confess I am happy to follow this without having to race!
> We can imagine that the popularity of the ling distance in the age groups, some would like to see you on the long distance format, why have you tried so far? How about the future?
My future investments in the sport will be determined by my professional career as a teacher, as well as my results in the coming races. If that works and if I get pleasure, I don’t raise any barreer on any format.