France’s most promising diver, Benjamin Auffret, 26, has announced his retirement from the discipline on April 21, just three months away for what would have been his second Olympics. After spending most of his early life in the water, he now aims for the sky by become a fight pilot in the army.
In an interview with the French Federation (FFN), Auffret raises three main reasons that brought him to this difficult decision: physical injuries, the sanitary crisis and his coach’s departure.
He explains that following the postponement of the Olympic Games last year, another year of hard training would have presented too many obstacles and he evaluated his chances for a medal too little after a series of physical injuries.
“After ranking 4th in Rio in 2016, I only wanted to improve in Tokyo, do better! Within these conditions, it seemed more and more compromised,” Auffret said.
Admitting it has been a heartbreaking decision to make, Auffret said that he had multiple discussions with his family, the staff and his entourage but that many obstacles stood in the way for him to continue. The damage another Olympic Games could have caused him was greater than the benefit.
After months of mental struggles related to this heavy choice, Auffret self-confessed: “Some days I feel more regrets because I feel good physically, but when I think about it, I am convinced I have taken the right decision.”
Auffret has decided to pursue a career in army aviation, a childhood dream. He has applied and submitted his file for a very elitist selection (only 4 or 5 candidates are selected among 500-1000 applicants). He says he is living this new adventure like the transition he did from gym to diving a few years ago.
I feel the same uplifting emotion. It is a great environment, where excellence is key, and I am ready to learn from the best. I have everything to learn.”
FINA wishes Benjamin Auffret the best of luck with his new endeavour.