Olympic Fencers Race Imboden and Ysaora Thibus Are Engaged! All About His Creative Proposal

Team USA’s Race Imboden and France’s Ysaora Thibus first met during the 2016 Rio Olympics

Race Imboden and Ysaora Thibus

Olympic fencers Race Imboden and Ysaora Thibus are engaged!

Imboden, a two-time Olympic medalist, popped the question to fellow Olympian Thibus, 30, during an intimate proposal at their favorite Parisian hotel, the couple announced exclusively with PEOPLE. Both Imboden and Thibus recently competed in the Tokyo Olympics — for the United States and France, respectively — and decided to celebrate following Imboden's bronze medal win with Team USA.

"After the Games, we stayed at one of our favorite hotels in Paris, Le Pigalle," Imboden, 28, tells PEOPLE. "In the hotel, there was a record player and I had made a vinyl for the proposal. I recorded an intro that ended with me popping the big question."

"I didn't expect it at all. I love the way he proposed because it was intimate and personal. It really felt like us," Thibus, two-time Olympian for France, adds. "Marriage has never felt like a destination for me. I was in shock at first. I felt deeply loved not because of a ring, but because of the way I feel with him. This moment is a celebration of that feeling."

Ysaora Thibus
Ysaora Thibus's engagement ring. Race Imboden

Imboden proposed with a ring featuring a soft blue sapphire framed by a baguette diamond with six offset diamonds.

The couple has been together for five years, first meeting at the Rio Olympics during an after party that led to hours talking on the beach. At the time, Imboden was living in New York and Thibus was living in Guadeloupe, but the French fencer says making the relationship work "felt natural."

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Meanwhile, Imboden — a three-time Olympian — says he and his fiancée's romance first flourished because of their shared passion for fencing.

"There was an immediate respect and understanding between us," Imboden adds. "We were drawn together by our want to build something new together. To follow our unique paths in sport, and build something even bigger outside of it. Growth has always been a priority and defining part of our relationship."

As of now, the couple hasn't started wedding planning, noting that many of their friends and family are located in different parts of the world which makes gathering even more difficult amid the COVID pandemic. Imboden says details will be finalized once countries have fully reopened.

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