An Olympic and Humanitarian Trip to China

SOS Children's Villages - France
Tiphanie after her victory in the 100m butterfly. Photo courtesy of Brigitte and Tiphanie
Together with 17 other French aspiring sports talents, Tiphanie will not only attend Olympic competitions and visit sights in China, but also meet with Chinese youth and participate in a humanitarian project.  

 

Tiphanie will keep a travel diary and update visitors to her blog"my olympic trip to china" on her impressions in pictures and writing.


"I'm travelling to Beijing to be involved in the Olympic Games - together with 17 other young French athletes, each representing their sports discipline." This is how Tiphanie, a 16-year-old girl who lives at the northernmost French SOS Children's Village in Calais, describes her very special ticket to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, from August 8-24.


The talented swimmer was chosen by the French swimming federation FFN to participate in a project initiated by the humanitarian organization, Secours Populaire Français. From August 9 to 18, the aspiring sports talents will complete a highly interesting circuit of China.


Teaming up with 18 young Chinese athletes, they will attend two Olympic events - trampoline preliminaries and a basketball match. They will also head to see the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China. Young people from the province of Sichuan, which was hit by an earthquake leaving more than 80,000 people dead on May 12, 2008, will also join their group.


However, on their journey, the young people will also call on other parts of China. Besides stopping over to visit the Xi'an Terracotta Army, they will eventually tend to the humanitarian purpose of their trip - an extended tour of the Secours Populaire Français project that will see them hand over rainwater collecting systems to families from Zhaona village in the arid province of Gansu.


Tiphanie's Great Passion

SOS Children's Villages - France
Tiphanie races dives into the water. Photo courtesy of Brigitte and Tipha


First attempts at sports saw Tiphanie have a go at sailing and judo, but passion finally caught on her when she signed up with the Calais swimming club. "That's where I was 'discovered' and someone suggested I should try out for the sports high school," says Tiphanie.


At the age of 13, she was admitted to the sports high school in Dunkirk (Dunkerque). "I went from two training sessions per week in Calais to two training sessions per day in Dunkirk, swimming ten to twelve kilometers every day," she recalls. On top of that, she did five hours of weight training a week. But her efforts would start paying off soon.


She became part of Dunkirk's team of young hopefuls and competed in a number of competitions. In the meantime, she brought home numerous medals won in regional and national level tournaments. "Ever since September, I have been taking part in the French Championships. I even swam alongside [French swimming superstar] Laure Manaudou!" exclaimed Tiphanie.


Her targets for the next school year are clearly carved out."I want to keep on getting better, so that I get accepted into the French National Team as soon as possible," she said. 


Who knows -- maybe Tiphanie will be one of the chosen few representing France at the London 2012 Olympic Games?


The Whole Family By Her Side

 

SOS Children's Villages - France
Tiphanie and her SOS Mother, Brigitte. Photo courtesy of Brigitte and Tiphanie
Tiphanie has seven siblings. In December 2000, the youngest five of them were put into the care of SOS Children's Villages France, allowing them to remain together and grow up in the warmth and security of a new family life. So, Tiphanie has been living at SOS Children's Village Calais for more than seven-and-a-half years, together with her SOS mother Brigitte Rambaud, Brigitte's husband Jean-Laurent and their little daughter Annelyne.

 

Tiphanie's two oldest siblings have now become independent and left the village, but their SOS family has grown. Tiphanie and her younger brother and sister have welcomed a 'little brother' and a 'little sister' who were admitted to the SOS Children's Village.


Her whole family is among Tiphanie's most ardent supporters in fulfilling her dreams. Both Brigitte -- a judo coach at a Calais club - and Jean-Laurent -- having supported Tiphanie in her intensive training for an entire summer season in the run-up to her entrance test for Dunkirk sports high school.


To SOS Children's Villages, Tiphanie's athletic success is, of course, not the single focus of attention. "Swimming has given Tiphanie a huge boost. It helped her get away from cumbersome thoughts. Nevertheless, she still shows great interest in life and in the development of her brothers and sisters," says her SOS mother. "Sports were also crucial in the development of her social skills. Furthermore, Tiphanie has gained confidence in herself as well as in her professional, social and personal future."


The SOS Children's Village in Calais as well as the entire SOS Children's Villages organisation are proud of their little champion and wish her an excellent stay in Beijing!