Cathy Melain is already part of Bourges Basket's folklore and history.
She also has a gynamnasim named after her. While winning the domestic grand slam with Bourges, winning EuroBasket 2009 with the French senior team was the highlight of her 2008-2009 season.
Her toughest moment was sitting through four overtimes as an assistant coach with the French U16 team during the U16 FIBA Europe European Championship for Women Division A quarter-final match against Turkey in Italy.
Today Cathy Melain is no more a basketball player but still involved in women’s basketball.
She is working with the coaching staff at INSEP (CFBB) with the young players as she prepares to become a coach one day.
She is also part of the commentary team for LFB-TV.
Our Colleague from Spain Miguel Bordoy Cano who writes for the website lokosxelbaloncestofemenino.com caught up with Melain after the LFB open in Paris to find out more about the lady who won everything in basketball.
A typical who is who entry for Cathy Melain would look like this:
National Honours: 241 Caps for France, European Champions 2001,2009, Runners up 1999, 5th place 2000 Olympics
Club Honours: EuroLeague Winners, 1997,1998, 2001, French Champions 1996,1997,1998, 1999,200, 2006,2007,2008, French Cup 2006,2008,2009
Personal Honours: French player of the year, 1999,2000,2001, EuroLeague Women MVP, 2000, EuroLeague Women All Star 2009
She was starting to think about retirement in 2007 when she signed her last contract for two seasons. But she only made her final decision at the beginning of the 2008-2009 season to be the last season.
Having retired from the national team before EuroBasket 2007, to come back in 2009 was not easy.
Melain thought about the risks and most importantly why she was doing this. In the end it went well and ended on a good note so she could not have any regrets.
Melain is the only member of the present champion that won in 2001. She explained that in 2001 the team's programme and objective was on winning the title. They were playing in France in front of their families and friends and were expected to win.
This time around the objective was to qualify for the World Championship in 2010. The team was a young team with young players like Céline Dumerc and Sandrine Gruda who were also very experienced.
So the lack of veterans made no difference. In addition every player had a defined role so at any moment they knew what to do within the team concept which helped in the end.
The fact that they went all the way to the final and won was a real surprise for everybody including the players.
It was only when they qualified for the semi-final that everybody started to think of winning a medal.
As the preparation was short and they were playing outside France, and the players remained close, made the final victory even sweeter.
She explained in the final match they were under no pressure.
With five minutes remaining in the game she remembered looking at the scoreboard and thinking that France could win the game.
The joy of winning was dampened slightly with the realisation that this had been her last game.
On reflection her role in the team was to help the players if they needed it, more of a security issue.
It was not her goal to change the team dynamics, she only had one tournament, the team would go on without her.
Cathy Melain is a product of the French Basketball Academy (INSEP-CFBB) and played for France at U16 level in 1991.
She explained that INSEP taught her how to become a basketball player and while she was there she learned how to play in the guard position.
She also liked the live, everything was organised from going to school and training.
Leaving INSEP for Tarbes was a culture shock because of living alone, having to take care of oneself, not playing a lot did not matter because she learned from watching.
In her second year she went to Aix-en-Provence and played much more but also discovered she needed to work hard on her game if she wanted to make it at the top.
She has even bought a house in the region.
She had two dreams when playing, one was to play in the Olympics which she did in 2000 and the second was play in Italy which she did between 2003-2005.
For the lady that has won almost everything on the court, the only thing that she would have liked would have been to be an Olympic Champion although she never had this as a goal.
Her experience with the group reminded her of when she was that age.
This age group is the age of discovery, the players have dreams and ambitions and are looking for ways to achieve them.
However as a coach she admits that she had a lot to learn and hopes to continue with the French Federation.
Melain is also studying so that she can qualify as national agent in France and then hope to work with younger players.
Melain is also on the commentary list for LFB-TV, she made her debut during the Open LFB and we are waiting to see if there is more.
Cathy Melain is following the path of other women who played basketball at high level and then on retirement from the game found work within the basketball structure.
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who is who picture credits:
Miguel Bordoy Cano - lokosxelbaloncestofemenino.com
Date created: 25 November 2009