Hi Alexandre, can you introduce yourself?
First of all, I would like to thank you Janek for doing this interview with me. It is always a pleasure to have the opportunity to talk about my sport and to share my passion with other people!
My name is Alexandre, and I am from Tours, France. I was a decathlete on the French national team until I became injured. Now I live in Manhattan (New York City), where I was training for the next Olympic Games of Rio, and completing my Masters degree.
When did you start with sport and why did you choose Track & Field?
I started to do sports at the age of 5. I was a very energetic kid, running and jumping everywhere. My parents put me into Judo to burn off some of this energy. I then became very attracted to Track and Field around the age of 10. I was fascinated by running faster, jumping higher, throwing further. So I started with high jump, 100m dash and javelin throw. It wasn’t until I was 16 that I started to be interested in the Decathlon and worked on other events such as pole vault, hurdles and 1500m.
Can you tell us about your decision to go to the United States?
I thought that if I was able to score 7729 points in the decathlon at the age of 22 without professional training, I would be able to qualify for the Olympics by scoring over 8200 points at the age of 25 by coming to the USA to train very seriously. Unfortunately I always knew that I was injury-prone and that something would probably go wrong... And something went wrong. I injured myself pretty seriously, which lead me to lose my scholarship at Manhattan College. Nevertheless, I finished the second year of my Master’s degree, paying it out of my pocket, because having a high education is very important for me.
How important is school and education for high level athletes?
To be honest I never really liked school. The system of education and learning has always been boring for me, but I didn't wanted to discontinue before getting my Master’s in order to make sure I would find a good career after my sport.
My mum used to tell me that school was more important than my sport, and that the Decathlon will never put food on the table. She was probably right because you can not really become rich practicing Track & Field. But she was missing the real picture, because this sport was giving me much more than money! Thanks to the Decathlon I had a unique experience that really made me become a man. I learned to work hard in order to achieve success, to never give up and to fight until my last effort to beat adversity. When you learn how to become a champion and be successful at an early age, you will be able to transfer those incredible strengths to your future professional and personal life.
What is your greatest athletic achievement to date?
Being on the National team of France for 5 years which was a dream for me when I was a young kid. Also winning the national championship multiple times and finishing in the top 10 at the European Championship make me very proud!
Can you tell us about your University experience in NYC and about your future plans?
In September 2014, I had the opportunity of being recruited by Manhattan College for my Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership.
This degree was very interesting and I learned a lot about how to manage and lead people in an organization. I would really enjoy a career in NYC in a respected and successful company. I believe that I can be a good fit in a big sports center in a managerial position, or in whatever business related organization including sales, management and strategy.
In conclusion, my academic education in the United States opened my eyes and gave me interest about how to make an organization or a company successful thanks to leadership.
Right now I am actively looking for a job in Manhattan, because I really love the USA and I am determined not to go back to France. Ideally, I would like a position where I can manage people, lead and motivate the employees to reach goals, create visions and strategies, manage budgets, schedules, and sales.
What do you miss the most since you stopped your decathlete career?
I really miss those moments during competitions when I was fired up before a race or a throw. You can't find this rush of adrenaline in other activities of your life. I almost don’t train anymore now, but I can still run the 100m dash in around 11.00s and jump close to 2m high (6ft 7“). It is important for me to stay fit and to conserve the physical capacities I earned after so many years of hard training.
I also wish I could have given back more to my sport. Not many people know about the Decathlon, and not many people do the promotion of it. Thanks a lot Janek, for bringing some lights on the decathlon through your great website Decathlon 2000!
Thank you for your kind words, Alexandre ! Do you have time to relax as a young man?
Basically no! I love to be very active and do a lot of things during my day. I love to see that I am achieving things and really moving forward. You will never see me in front of my TV drinking a beer, eating pizza and watching soccer. This is not me!
What is your last word for this interview?
I would like to wish good luck to all my decathlete buddies for their Olympics qualification this year. Especially for Romain Martin (France) and James Turner (Canada). These two guys work really really hard and deserve to score big this year.
I would also thank Dan Mecca the headcoach at Manhattan College who recruited me for the team and gave me the opportunity to live in NYC.
Alexandre Folacci for Decathlon 2000