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French Olympian Marion Clignet

Defying epilepsy in sport: Marion Clignet

Early life:

Marion was diagnosed with epilepsy in 1986 when she was 22 years old after experiencing a Tonic Clonic seizure. Marion first took to cycling as a means to get around. Not being able to drive, she needed to get to work and cycling was the obvious choice and it wasn’t long before she soon discovered that she had a talent for cycling and her competitive streak soon saw her competing in events.

Reflecting on her incredible journey, Marion believes that her struggles with epilepsy equipped her with those winning qualities, turning her into a dual Olympic champion.

Career highlights:

  • Won silver for France at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996
  • Won silver for France at the Sydney Olympics in 2000
  • Six-times world champion: five gold, one silver one bronze

Defying epilepsy:

Marion faced discrimination in the cycling world because of having epilepsy. She was not picked to compete in the 1990 US World Championship team despite her amazing performance. When she asked why, she was told that because she had epilepsy she posed a risk for the team.

Instead of quitting, she made use of her dual nationality, moved to France and began racing for that country.

She said:

I’m really not sure how far I would have pushed myself if I didn’t have epilepsy.

Since retiring from professional sport, Marion spends her time raising awareness of the condition across America and Europe. In recent years, Marion has developed the concept of an Australian bike ride for epilepsy, which has expanded into the widely known ‘Ride4Epilepsy’.

Watch Marion Clignet speak openly about her epilepsy condition and why it's never held her back from achieving her dreams

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Cyber EssentialsFundraising RegulatorYoung Epilepsy is the operating name of The National Centre for Young People with Epilepsy Charitable Trust.
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