On the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, UPU highlights how La Poste France fosters the athletic aspirations of its postal staff.Skill. Perseverance. Drive. Dedication. These qualities help elite athletes rise toward the pinnacle of their sport, reaching great heights for themselves, their teams, and their countries.
Two such athletes are French Olympian Kévin Campion, who competes in racewalking, and Paralympian Thu Kamkasomphou, who competes in para table tennis.
Despite the differences in their sports, Campion and Kamkasomphou share more than the drive that pushes them to compete on the world stage. They also share a need for financial and professional support and an employer who provides it: La Poste France.
“Despite being second in the world ranking, I am not a professional sportsperson; I live on my salary from La Poste,” said Kamkasomphou, whose list of achievements includes six Paralympic games with multiple medals including two gold, and several national titles.
Kamkasomphou is a communications officer for the post and one of more than 14,000 of the post’s employees who live with a disability. As a para athlete, Kamkasomphou said that La Poste adapts roles of employees to take into account disabilities.
She is released from her duties so that she is free to focus her time on training, courses, and competitions, and when the post needs her, she is there, Kamkasomphou said.
“Sport has been the answer to everything for me,” she said. “As a competitor, I’m out to achieve perfection. I am constantly setting myself challenges and tough objectives.”
It is this mindset she shares with her colleagues at La Poste France, the approach she took to win the singles gold medal at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney and the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing.
She was able to achieve such heights, she said, because of La Poste France’s flexibility as an employer.
“My success is also that of La Poste,” Kamkasomphou said.
Campion also credits his achievements to his employer’s support.
He joined La Poste France in 2013 as a postal worker in the Dieppe area. The independent nature of the work suited him, he said. Six mornings a week he walked his route. And every evening he trained an average of 20 km.
“Sport has helped me to open up to the outside world after having been quite withdrawn in my youth,” Campion said. “It has given me friends and also a family.”
In 2014, La Poste France reduced Campion’s commitment to his postal duties by 50 per cent. In 2017, he was released from all job requirements allowing him to focus entirely on his sport.
“As a result, my performance saw a great improvement,” he said.
Campion ranked 49th in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. At the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, he ranked 16th. Additionally, Campion has medalled in several French championships, competed in two European championships and four world championships.
“I thank them for their investment in me,” Campion said of the post. “I will continue to do my utmost to deliver good results for them.”
Whether on the world stage or on the local fields, Campion sees sports as a means to build community.
“Sport is one of the greatest tools we have to bring people together, share with one another and have fun, whatever the level,” Campion said. “In some cases, it can also be a source of inspiration.”
That’s why he appreciates the work La Poste France has done in so many areas of sport, including, he said, in supporting referee programmes. Since 2007, La Poste France has participated in programmes to improve public opinion of referees and to support careers, the post says.
“Without umpires, there would be no matches, and without matches, there would be no sport,” he said. “La Poste also supports parasports. Overall, it has a really great strategy toward sport in France.”