Athlete of the Month – March 2019
French sculler Matthieu Androdias is a reigning World Champion in the double sculls– but he’s trying to forget that. The 28-year-old tells us about life after his first world title, how he’s keeping his hunger for gold and how sports people should take care of their minds as much as they do their bodies.
World Rowing: How did it feel to become a World Champion for the first time?
Matthieu Androdias: Kind of weird actually... because I refrained myself from thinking about the medal during the warm up and race. I just stayed focused on the process. So, when we reached the line first, I was not ready for that :D and it took a while to realise. This gold gives meaning to all I have done, invested and sacrificed for years.
WR: Does your pre-season training feel different this year, knowing you are the team to beat? Is there more pressure?
MA: I’m not World Champion anymore. That’s what I’ve been telling myself since the beginning of the season. Obviously, I don’t start from scratch, but I’m acting like I’m still hunting my first gold medal, continuing to explore new progress tracks. I don’t want to make the mistake of feeling over confident. High performance doesn’t allow it.
WR: How have you spent the winter?
MA: In France, we have the opportunity to go on the water throughout the year. But we have other kinds of sessions: erg, bike, run and weights. Not really original.
WR: Why did you choose rowing and what motivates you to keep doing it?
MA: My family and I didn’t know anything about rowing before I started. I was 15 and it was some medical advice from my mother. She pushed me to choose between swimming and rowing to resolve my back issues. The treatment changed into passion and then became the biggest challenge of my life.
WR: You have had some success at competitive indoor rowing. What do you enjoy about it? What is the secret to your success?
MA: I did 5:45 last year only to make that race go quicker ^^. I hate ergos. For a long time it has been a big deal for me. But after years of hard work, I have learned how to use the machine to explore myself and push my limits. I love the way I hate it.
WR: You have talked about the importance of mental health for sports people. How would you like to see attitudes towards mental health change?
MA: To me, it’s a central parameter. It can make a big difference if you want to reach your full potential. We should help young athletes to understand, take care and improve their mental skills, instead of turning it into a taboo. The notion of weakness has to go.
WR: How, as a top sportsperson, do you look after your own mental health?
MA: It all began with the meeting of a person I trust. She helped me to understand how I work. Today I use daily tools to keep exploring, to manage my stress and emotions, strengthen my focus, etc… Mental skills have to be worked just like muscles – every day. Nothing can be taken for granted.
WR: Do you row full-time or do you have another occupation?
MA: No. I have a masters degree in complex systems engineering and I’ve been working part time at Atos for the past few months. In France, the dual project is a tradition. It is not only to prepare for my life after sport, but also a matter of balance between sport, personal and professional occupations.
WR: What is your plan for this season?
MA: Doing the same things won’t be sufficient to take the gold this year. Our opposition will keep getting stronger until 2020. We have to raise our game.
WR: What is your long-term goal?
MA: Easy one: GOOOOOOOLD ;)
WR: What makes you happy?
MA: My life balance. Enjoying what I do surrounded by people I love.
WR: What sportsperson do you most admire?
MA: I have the privilege to know personally the people I admire the most. I take inspiration from my coaches, teammates, family and friends. They are awesome.