Sadness hits the world of triathlon

By Paul Groves | 10 Nov, 2015

Laurent Vidal, 31 years old, Olympian (5th in London, 36th in Beijing), World Cup medallist, French Champion (Belfort - 2009, Villiers-sur-Loir - 2011, Saint-Cyr - 2012), coach and all-round good chap. This morning we heard the dreadful news; Laurent Vidal had suffered a fatal heart attack. Back in April 2014, an attack followed a swim session. Having spent some time in a coma he survived but was faced with the realisation that there was a serious problem. From that point he re-assessed his priorities but with characteristic determination said, “je ne me vois pas vivre une vie de canapé” (I don’t see me just sitting back and putting my feet up.) Using his considerable experience it was now his chance to give back to the sport through his coaching and later, as an Athlete Representative on the ITU Athlete Committee.

It was back in 1993 in his home town of Sète that he had his first taste of a sport that was later to dominate his life; a sport he would contribute so much to.

PHOTO: Midi Libre
A champion in the making was what was written in 1993. He went on to prove the writer of that article was right.

ETU President, Renato Bertrandi was given the news in the early hours of this morning, “It is a terrible loss for our triathlon family. Laurent was a great athlete and had recently been making significant contributions as the ITU Athlete Representative. A wonderful character, so full of life, looking forwards to the future. He gave so much and had so much more to give.”

Philippe LESCURE, Président de la Fédération Française de Triathlon : “C’est avec stupeur et une grande émotion que j’ai appris ce matin le décès soudain de Laurent Vidal. Nous garderons en mémoire l’image d’un garçon doté de qualités humaines, sportives et relationnelles exceptionnelles. Laurent, tout au long de son remarquable parcours sportif a affiché une ténacité, une volonté inébranlable. Il incarnait le meilleur de ce qu’un sportif portant les couleurs de son pays peut représenter.

Il symbolisait l’image d’un athlète moderne particulièrement attaché à l’éthique sportive. Je suis certain que son exemple continuera d’éclairer les générations de triathlètes et de sportifs. La F.F.TRI. dans toutes ses composantes est durement affectée par sa disparition et assure sa famille et ses proches de son soutien dans cette très douloureuse circonstance.”

(It is with shock and great sadness that I learned this morning of the sudden death of Laurent Vidal. We will all keep in our minds an image of a young man so gifted; as a sportsman; in the way he dealt with others. Laurent during all of his remarkable sporting career was tenacious and had an indomitable will. He was the very incarnation of just how a sportsman should be, wearing a national uniform.

He symbolised the image of a modern athlete who sticks rigidly to the sporting ethic. I am certain that his example will continue to shine as a beacon to future generations of triathletes. The French Triathlon Federation has been deeply affected at all levels by his parting and sends our condolences to his family and those who were close to him at this very difficult time.)

Further information will be posted on the website as it comes to hand, but in the meantime people are invited to post their condolences on the Triathlon New Zealand Facebook page.

For so many he was that tall, smiling Frenchman; half-French, half-Kiwi, full-on triathlete so full of life. Andrea Hewitt, Laurent’s fiancée of a number of years, is with the family now. Her partner in life; her training partner and her coach. In one moment she has lost everything and we, the triathlon family, have lost another to our ranks. The world will be a lesser place.