Hi Camille! For those uninitiated, can you briefly introduce yourself? What would you say your defining character traits are?
Hi! I’m 26, was born in Tournai but live in Brussels. After getting my degree at the Brussels Management School I’ve been fully focused on my career in athletics and have been a professional athlete since the summer of 2019. I run both solo and in the relay team. I love pushing my limits and giving it all I got whatever I do, so you could say I’m quite competitive. I’ve had to work long and hard – 6 years - to get to where I wanted to be as a runner, so perseverance is another trait of mine. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without ambition and passion. Sports have always been my biggest passion of all, and it has taught me so many things: stress management, teamwork and humility among others.
At what age did you discover that you truly loved running and that you had a talent for it?
I’ve always enjoyed running, whether it was chasing my brother at home, or just running around in school (laughs). Every year I’d participate in an interschool race, which I’d often win too. When I was 14, I tried an athletics training and immediately got hooked. Two years later, I was already competing in the European Youth Championships in the 100-metres sprint and the 4 x 100-metres. Like I said, I was always quite competitive, and it’s always been a dream of mine to participate in the Olympics. With time I’ve discovered that the 400-metres distance suits me best.
And when did you take the step to being a professional athlete? Was there a specific event that lead to this?
I’d say that I’ve been training like a professional since I was 18 and started training under Jacques Borlée, but I only became a professional runner at age 26, because I combined running with my studies for a long time. Combining sports and studies wasn’t always easy but it definitely instilled a certain discipline and structure in me.
Thanks to my results in 2018, I managed to get a professional athlete status in June 2019. This status allows me to concentrate solely on training, which was a big change for me because I can now spend more time taking care of myself and recuperating. I can also spend more time training abroad. I feel very fortunate to be able to do so and push myself further, to run as fast as I can and represent Belgium to the best of my abilities.
How do you prepare mentally and physically for competitions at such a high level?
Physically, it’s Jacques Borlée that takes care of all preparations, on the track and in the gym. I also attach great importance to recuperating between trainings. Mentally, my trick is to envision everything that will be happening during the day of the competition the night before. Starting with breakfast, all the way to the finish line. I visualize every detail of the “perfect race” I’d like to run, the technical aspects, the tactics, the feelings. This helps me to deal with the stress and it programs my brain to execute everything precisely as planned.
Is there an athlete in particular that inspires or motivates you?
No, not really but I have to say that the whole Borlée family has been a great example to me. I have been observing them throughout the years, paying close attention to how they handle themselves and that has enabled me to learn a lot about the processes and mechanisms that lead to athletic performances of the highest level.
How do you like to dress in your time off the racetrack?
I’m often in relaxed mode, with jeans and sneakers. I love the comfort and style sneakers offer. I do also like high heels but never wear them because I’m afraid that I may twist my ankle or get back pain (laughs).
What do you like about Bellerose?
I like the fact that it’s a Belgian brand that matches my personality and sporty style, all the while allowing me to be well-dressed, exuding the type attitude that I’m looking for.
What does the medallion you’re wearing signify, if we may ask?
It’s actually a gift from Ellen Schouppe, our mental coach with the Belgian Cheetahs. After qualifying for Tokyo, she offered one of these to every team member. One side has the well-known Olympic rings, the other has a flame. Why a flame? The Cheetahs’ motto is ‘’Cheetahs on Fire’’, which also is our battle cry before every race.