Handball Euro: Valentin Porte, hardworking captain at the service of the collective

He had warned before inaugurating at this Euro his new captain’s armband of the Blues: “I will stay as I am. » Still the same, Valentin Porte, with just three more victories to his credit since the French handball team flew through the preliminary roundof the continental competition and arrives in perfect position for the main round which begins this Thursday, January 20.

→ PORTRAIT. Handball Euro: Guillaume Gille guides the Blues to the heights

Always the same, and that’s a lot. “A form of exemplarity that characterizes him on a daily basis”, summarized national coach Guillaume Gille when announcing the new duties of his right winger last November. He could have evoked, in a changing team, his role of “taulier”, at 31 years old and soon a decade in blue in the legs. Or his complete collection of gold medals (the Euro in 2014, the World Cup in 2015 and 2017, the Olympic title last summer in Tokyo). But no, it’s the Montpellier player’s state of mind, his rigor and consistency, that the boss of the Blues preferred to highlight.

Beginnings in the cage

It must be said that Valentin Porte is made of this wood: solid, because it is well built. Everything is indeed not written in advance in the course of the little Versailles. The kid started the sport in the discipline of his father, international field hockey. But thanks to a move to the small town of Toury (Eure-et-Loir) at the age of six, he dropped the stick for the handball ball, just to fit in by doing like his new band. of friends.

Finally, the ball, the young Valentin does not handle it much. Because it is in the goals that he begins. Being a guard does not displease him, and six years pass before he has desires elsewhere. Except that then, the field seems very big to one who has remained in his cage for so long. “When you start from nothing and you are not good, it is in your interest to listen well, to work well, and above all to have a lot of humility to learn”, he points out.

So in sport-studies, Valentin Porte works like a madman to get up to speed. He is progressing, but if training centers seek him out of the hopeful pole of Chartres, it is mainly because he is left-handed, a rare commodity. He chose to join Toulouse in 2008, because he was attracted to the South, and because he was clever. He knows that the modest team of the Pink City easily gives young people a chance. Bingo. He quickly signed a professional contract.

The rest, almost, falls on him. In January 2013, he started in a friendly match with the Blues. And badaboum: here he is from the start in the France team at the 2013 World Cup, as Luc Abalo’s understudy. This choice of coach Claude Onesta is quite criticized, so Valentin Porte is discreet, “new kid” in the country of the Heavyweights, the nickname of the Blues at the time. He is working hard in training. No excitement, work. His philosophy. He is sometimes criticized for being a bit too perfectionist. But the results are there.

The “little man on the way” of a perfectionist

He exploded at Euro 2014 as a serial scorer, then confirmed at the 2015 World Cup. Two titles, but still the feeling of having to prove. It was only after the silver medal in Rio, where he was voted the competition’s best defender, that he began to see himself as part of the Blues. World gold in 2017 and the title in the Champions League with his new club Montpellier in 2018 finally confirm him as a leader in the discipline.

“I made my merry way”, he comments modestly. In Montpellier, captain for three years, he seeks above all “to set an example, to be the good image of the club”. A man of duty, and always motivated by a thirst for doing the best. A competitor at heart, Valentin Porte, even in golf or padel, which he practices diligently in addition to his training.

For the Blues too, he always wants more. Before Tokyo, commenting on the recent results of a less dominant French team than in the 2014-2017 period, he lets go: “Bronze medals are going well, but it tires me a bit. » Has the Olympic tournament satisfied the ogre Porte? Not quite. He becomes captain at a time when the collective is more than ever the cardinal value of the selection. He also had his armband validated by his teammates. Back with the group at the last moment after a positive Covid test, he would like to bring this little world to the continental summit, which has escaped the Blues since 2014. The era of the sparks of the very young Porte. Who would make many new memories.


The Blues received three out of three

By winning a third consecutive victory against Serbia (29-25) on Monday January 17, the Blues completed an impeccable preliminary round for this Euro in Hungary. After their inaugural success against Croatia (27-22) and their demonstration against Ukraine (36-23), the Olympic champions will therefore begin the main round this Thursday, January 20 with already two points on the clock.

“It represents a lot of work well done, in a group that was anything but simple, welcomed the coach Guillaume Gille. It’s satisfying to be able to qualify with two points when you know the caliber of the opponents who await us. » The Blues, who will have to do without their pillar in defense Karl Konan, positive for Covid and replaced by Théo Monar, will notably find Denmark, world champion 2021 and Olympic vice-champion in Tokyo.



Euro handball: Guillaume Gille guides the Blues to the top

A short defeat before flying to the European Championships. The French handball team lost a small goal (35-34) against Germany, Sunday January 9 in Wetzlar, during their only preparation match for the Euro, which takes place in Hungary and Slovakia from January 13 to 30.

If the second half can leave regrets to Nikola Karabatic and his teammates, the setback did not shake the serenity of coach Guillaume Gille. “We are here to continue working and making sure we are ready to start the Euro”, estimated the coach, realistic but confident a few days before their entry into competition, Thursday, January 13, against Croatia.

A blue at the head of the Blues

Coach of the Blues for barely two years, the former center-half with 308 selections is now unanimous among his players. A dazzling but also surprising grip: “Gino” had never found himself at the head of a very high level team before taking the reins of the France team.

“Guillaume’s choice was not the most obvious, remembers Philippe Bana, president of the French Handball Federation. He had very little experience while others clamored for a tactician to lead the team. The players themselves wondered about this choice. “

FACTS. Tokyo Olympics: the French handball team achieves a historic Olympic treble

It took him well: just a few months after his arrival on the bench, Guillaume Gille was already leading the Blues to the top of world handball. Despite a preparation very thwarted by the health crisis, the Drômois and his men won a new Olympic title by triumphing over their Danish rivals on Japanese soil. The third, after the successes of 2008 and 2012. In those years, “Gino” was on the floor, ball in hand and blue jersey on his back.

Big brother role

The task was difficult, however. After the Euro 2020 fiasco – elimination of France in the first round to everyone’s surprise – the team had to be completely rebuilt. “The France team had lost its way, reminds Philippe Bana. The group was in small pieces. “ Hence the idea of ​​calling on Guillaume Gille, then assistant to Didier Dinart: “More than a tactician, the France team needed a big brother, someone who embodied the spirit and values ​​of a France team which had dominated its sport for several years. “

→ READ. Handball World Cup 2021: the French lose in the final against Norway

Mario Cavalli knows Guillaume Gille well for having coached him upon his arrival in Chambéry in 1994. He is not surprised to see him shine in his new costume: “Guillaume has always been a unifier. He was close to the staff and passed instructions to the players. “ An ability to supervise that Philippe Bana had also detected very early on in the player: “When I first met him before the Sydney Games in 2000, I immediately noticed that he was showing a height of vision that was unmatched by the other players. “

participating management

An altruistic player who listens to his teammates, Guillaume Gille continues to make the collective a cardinal value. These principles are embodied in a form of participatory management, inherited, in part, from his predecessor Claude Onesta. The coach has thus established “game advice”, limited meetings with senior players to collectively determine the team’s game plan. He also relies on the authority of elders, such as Nikola Karabatic, with whom he wrote the most beautiful pages of French handball.

As idyllic as his debut at the head of the Blues may be, Guillaume Gille now faces a major challenge: winning the Euro and imitating the “Experts”, the only French team to have won a major title directly after the conquest. Olympic laurels. “In handball, winning the Euro is even harder than winning the Olympics given the density of the participating teams”, observes Mario Cavalli.

Proof that sporting performances still serve as the ultimate justice of the peace, Didier Dinart did not survive the rout of 2020, despite a world champion title in 2017 and two bronze medals obtained at the European and European Championships. world the following two years. “At this level, it is the results that validate the coach’s method”, warns Mario Cavalli. Double European champion as a player in 2006 and 2010, Guillaume Gille knows the path to follow.


Many absences

Opposed to Croatia, Serbia and Ukraine in Group C, the France team is entering the competition despite the absence of some of its best elements. The captains Nedim Remili and Luka Karabatic are both forfeited due to injury. Just like left-back Timothey N’Guessan.

Elohim Prandi is still recovering after being the victim of a knife attack on New Year’s Eve. Last annoyance for Guillaume Gille, the positive test of Captain Valentin Porte. “We have a good depth of workforce, which we want to make full use of”, however reassured the coach.



Covid-19, French sport worried about the return of gauges

The improvement lasted barely six months. Removed on June 30, the gauges are back in sports arenas from Monday, January 3 and for the next three weeks in order to fight against the spread of Covid-19. The objective: to try to slow down the propagation of the Omicron variant. The number of spectators is therefore limited to 5,000 in outdoor stadiums and 2,000 in indoor venues. The consumption of food and drink is also prohibited.

Winter promises to be harsh for the French rugby, basketball, handball and volleyball teams, which, unlike football, do not benefit from major television rights. Some clubs fear their revenues will collapse, with their business models primarily relying on ticketing and sponsor-related events.

Ticket office losses

All are not housed in the same boat: the clubs really affected are those which enjoy an average attendance of over 2,000 people. A rare fact in French volleyball, but which concerns, for example, the Tours club. “We have more than 2,800 spectators on average out of a total capacity of 3,100 seats”, indicates Pascal Foussard, a former player who is now the club’s general manager.

→ ANALYSIS Basket: under the French baskets, the recovery

In addition to ticket office losses, the fact of not being able to honor the services promised to partners (such as reserved seats, for example) worries the manager: “Our partners are not going to continue paying for a show that we are no longer able to provide to them. “Enough to “Jeopardize the economic future of the club”, he continues, while 60% of the Volley-Ball Tours budget depends on this part “Hospitality” and ticket sales.

“We are still being punished”

Beyond the strict financial losses, it is the feeling that sport is once again sacrificed that most frustrates Pascal Foussard: “We have always adapted to the requirements of the State to limit the risks and we are still being punished. In volleyball, we don’t have television: without an audience, we don’t even have a reason to play! “

A bitterness shared by Gaëtan Müller, general manager of Asvel, the Lyon-Villeurbanne basketball club. If he “Understands the health imperative”, he is surprised at the early return of restrictions: “It is difficult to hear these measures, because we have been implementing drastic health protocols for several months and we have never been at the origin of a cluster. “

The Astroballe, the team’s lair, had to refuel for the next three games at home, against Monaco, Red Star Belgrade and neighbor Roanne. Gaëtan Müller has already quantified the ticket office losses: “With 2,000 spectators instead of 5,500, we are losing € 150,000 over the next three matches. “

State support?

For its part, men’s handball will suffer little from the situation since the French championship will not resume before February 5 because of the Euro, scheduled for January 13 to 30 in Hungary and Slovakia. Women’s clubs are more concerned. In particular Brest and Metz, which welcome more than 2,000 spectators on average in their rooms.

Metz Handball are due to play four home games in the next three weeks, including two in the Champions League. “ This decreases revenue by 50% ”, said Tuesday, December 28 Thierry Weizman, president of the club, who hoped to see his team evolve in front of 4,000 supporters.

→ ANALYSIS Faced with the pandemic, women’s sport “is in the rough”

The world of the oval ball is also grinding its teeth. “Rugby is a convivial sport whose resources, more than 60% on average, are linked to the presence of the public and to partners during matches”, explained the director general of the National Rugby League, Emmanuel Eschalier, the day after the announcement of the new restrictions. In Top 14, the elite of hexagonal rugby, the average attendance approaches 15,000 spectators. It even exceeds 20,000 at the Toulouse Stadium and is close to 25,000 in Bordeaux, at the Chaban-Delmas stadium.

To make up for the losses, many leaders are calling for more state support. “We cannot carry out our work properly, it would be logical for the State to help us”, believes Gaëtan Müller. This help would prove to be even more precious if the health situation were to worsen.

All fear that the restrictions will tighten. “If it lasts three weeks, it will be fine, confides Pascal Foussard. But we don’t want to relive the closed-door nightmare. “


Towards proportional gauges?

Many voices, especially from the soccer world, are calling for the gauges to be proportional to the size of the enclosure. “One in two seats, that had a real meaning”, regretted the director general of RC Strasbourg Alain Plet, judging “Incomprehensible” a tonnage of 5,000 people in stadiums with a capacity often exceeding 20,000 people. A call heard by the deputies: an amendment was adopted in committee of the National Assembly, against the advice of the government, to set up proportional gauges. The bill is discussed in session from Monday, January 3.



Handball World Cup 2021: the French lose in the final against Norway

After dominating for nearly half an hour, the French handball players collapsed in the World Cup final (29 to 22) on Sunday, December 19 against Norway, but returned to France with a new medal around their neck, the seventh in the of the last eight competitions.

The opportunity to mark the history of their sport a little more was a good one for Coralie Lassource’s teammates. They had the opportunity to achieve a very rare international double in the space of just over four months, after winning Olympic gold in Tokyo by beating Russia in the final.

→ CONTEXT. Handball, the Blue in the final to enter the legend

But to imitate the Danes (1996) and the Norwegians (2008), the only ones who have achieved such a feat in the past (at the time, it was a JO-Euro double), they will unfortunately need try their luck again.

I don’t know if this will haunt us for long. I know that for the moment, we are disappointed. We expected better, especially given our first half. It’s the law of sport, there is a winner, there is a loser, that’s how it is », Commented the captain of the France team, Coralie Lassource. ” Hot, it’s complicated to be satisfied with this medal. “

Eternal regrets

The scenario of the final will leave eternal regrets to the players of Olivier Krumbholz, because they achieved an almost perfect first part of the match. Almost only, because after leading 16-10 (28th), they messed up at the end of the half: a temporary exclusion for Méline Nocandy, a lack of change for Lucie Granier, a time-out while Laura Flippes went to register the 17-10, and a big fault of Estelle Nze Minko.

These errors allowed Norway to regain hope (16-12, 30th). And the return of the locker room was fatal to the Blue who conceded a 7-2 impossible to reverse, with too many failures on the gate Silje Solberg, imperial (12 stops at 50%).

There is a lot, a lot of disappointment to come out of this tournament this way, having played 30 minutes. We are a little frustrated. We do not spit on the silver medal, but we would have liked to finish in style, we have had a good run so far “, Considers the half-center of the Blue, Grâce Zaadi.

Finishing a tournament on a setback always leaves a taste of unfinished business, when gold seemed close at hand. The defeat against Norway should not, however, make us forget the extraordinary series of the French in recent years.

Seven out of eight possible medals

Aside from the failure of the 2019 World Cup in Japan (elimination from the first round), Olivier Krumbholz’s players have always reached the last four since the Rio Games in 2016. They brought back seven medals out of eight possible, climbed six times in the final and have won three titles (World-2017, Euro-2018 and Tokyo Games in 2021).

Even the “Experts”, their male counterparts who dominated the male hand planet from 2008 to 2017, had not experienced such regularity. The gang at Nikola Karabatic had climbed “only” on six podiums, however all of them gold, in the first eight competitions of their absolute reign.

This 2021 World Cup was only supposed to be the first of three stages which should lead the French to the Olympic Games at home in 2024 (in the huge Pierre-Mauroy stadium with 27,000 seats in Lille). But despite the physical and psychological fatigue following the coronation in Tokyo, they found the resources to climb again to the final.



Handball, the Blue in the final to enter the legend

It will be, Sunday, December 18, live on TF1. From 5.30 p.m., the French handball players, reigning Olympic champions, will face Norway in the 2021 World Cup final. A poster in the form of “Revenge” afterEuro-2020, “Lost by two goals”, commented the pivot of the Blue Pauletta Foppa, at theAFP. “It’s going to be a very exciting game, with style opposition. It’s a very difficult team to beat ”, warned the coach of the France team, Olivier Krumbholz.

The French climbed to the final at the end of a semi-final full of suspense, against Denmark (23-22) on Friday 17th, and find themselves above all, now, in a match of an exceptional double, a little more than four months after the coronation of Tokyo. Only the Danes (1996) and the Norwegians (2008) managed to achieve such a feat in the past (a double JO-Euro at the time).

Handball: the Blue are really on the attack before the semi-final of the World Cup

A complicated meeting

In the semi-final, in a very complicated meeting against a Scandinavian defense very well in place, the Blue made a very large part of the semi-final behind in the score, penalized by loss of ball (ten in the first thirty minutes ) and a failed attack on Althea Reinhardt, the Danish goalkeeper. “We had to go get that one, we had to be patient, hang on when we weren’t very good, avoid letting them go with a score that would not have been overtaken”, recognized Olivier Krumbholz.

Led by four goals several times in the first period (8-4, 16th, 10-6, 20e) then in the second period (18-14, 41e), the French took a long time to find the loophole, and it was finally on a tactical choice of a staged defense with Estelle Nze Minko in an advanced position that they put doubt in the head of the Danish attack.

The French came back to score at that point, just after having negotiated a double numerical advantage rather badly. It was then that the team’s key players, Grâce Zaadi, Estelle Nze Minko and Pauletta Foppa accelerated to return to a tie (20-20, 51st). Althea Reinhardt, perfect in her cages so far, gave way to Sandra Toft in the last ten minutes. And the Brest goalkeeper kept her team in the fight, at a time when the French were taking over.

A victory “to the mind”

It was finally the Brestoise Alicia Toublanc, on her right wing, who gave the advantage at the start of the last five minutes (22-21), not to let the Danes come back in front. Toft’s parry on a counterattack from Coralie Lassource only delayed the fatal deadline for the Danes, who are setting a date for the future.

Cleopatra Darleux, coming into play for the second half, defeated left winger Laerke Pedersen and sealed the victory at the end of the suspense, while the tricolor wall had to provide a last effort, on a free kick after the buzzer, before letting his joy burst.

“We went looking for her with the guts, with the mind. We did not play our best game of the competition, but the result is there, we are in the final. It is the most important “, rejoiced Coralie Lassource.

In the final against Norway, it will be a different story: “If we do not find the quality of the game, it will be very difficult”, has already warned, Saturday 18, the coach.



Handball: the Blue are really on the attack before the semi-final of the World Cup

It becomes a habit. The French handball players are again in the last four of a great competition. After a convincing demonstration against the Swedes in the quarter-finals (31-26), the Blue continued on the momentum of their triumph at the Olympic Games by inviting themselves to the semi-final of the World Cup, against Denmark, on Friday, December 17. They have reached this level for the seventh time in the last eight international competitions they have played. A real success.

→ ANALYSIS. Handball: the Blue want to impose their law on the world championship

It must be said and repeated. So the trainer Olivier Krumbholz takes care of it: “We have to do pedagogy all the time to explain that being there is not obvious. That it is an endlessly renewed, monstrous job, with exceptional girls. “ It was indeed not easy to bounce back from the Olympic title, and a decompression that emptied the team as well as the management. But the collective has been able to draw on its resources to set out again in conquest more beautiful.

Lightning counterattacks

Because on solid foundations, we can rebuild faster. And the basis of the France team is an iron defense, an ability to stifle opposing inclinations. Aptitude verified against Russia to complete the main round (33-28), or against the Swedes, physically affected and put under the snuffer in the second part of the match. To this mastery, the Blue added a new offensive ease. “We have a lot more plasticity in defense than in attack, we are known for that. But we are working tactically to better oil the suits in front, and a click occurred in the middle of the Olympic tournament. The end of the competition was more successful, and we remain in this dynamic at this World Cup. We show more fluidity in attack, on collective movements that we repeat often. “

The players benefit in particular from their physical excellence to offer themselves very fast lifts of the ball. As soon as the latter is recovered, a blue wave unfolds, the ball flies from hand to hand until, in a few seconds, an opening solution is found on the opposing goal. “We paid particular attention to this kind of counter-attack, because we had identified a deficiency in this area during the Games., continues the coach. Now it is a weapon that we have mastered. “

In this register, Grace Zaadi, the “Ambition leader” (dixit Krumbholz) of the band is distinguished by playing the launching pad. At 28, the center-half who has already won everything (the World Cup in 2017, the Euro in 2018 and the Games this summer) is the metronomic hub of the Blue. Imperial in defense, she has been perfectly inspired since the start of the competition to break through the opponent’s safe, also finding, through her precise passes, the pivot Pauletta Foppa. Indispensable, the master at playing? “It’s a small downside: she played a lot”, admits Olivier Krumbholz.

Still a little waste when shooting

No panic though. The bench depth is the other major asset of this team. It is in its ability to rotate the workforce without affecting performance that the team also forges its certainties. The return from injury of Orlane Kanor for example (victim of a ruptured Achilles tendon in April 2021), called at the last minute in the middle of the competition, is timely to bring his science of long range shooting to the Blue. Because if the attacking potential has improved, there is still this waste on shooting, visible in the first half against Sweden.

The lack of gunboats remains a weak point for Les Bleues. “In this area, it is on training that we must focus, on an individual technique no doubt to be better refined among young people, because it is not in the France team that we have the time. to work on shooting, says Olivier Krumbholz. We are focusing on tactical preparation. “

However, it will be necessary to fire everything against the Danes on Friday, past masters in the art of weaving barbed wire (read below). Can the beautiful blue offensive mechanics get stuck? “Against them, if we have a single weak sector, it will not work”, warns Olivier Krumbholz. Condemned to excellence, the Blue. As per usual.


Beware of the Danes

The Blue will meet in the semi-final, Friday December 17 at 5.30 p.m., the Danes against whom they remain on three victories: during the first phase of Euro 2020 (23-20), and in March 2021 in preparation matches at the Tokyo Games to which the Scandinavian team was not invited (26-22 and 24-23). But also drags in the memories of the French this wicked defeat at the 2019 World Cup (18-20) which sealed their traumatic elimination in the first round. Les Bleues know that the debates will be heated, and that they will have to work to overcome a rough defense and especially the two Danish goalkeepers, Sandra Toft and Althea Reinhardt, who have the best save percentages in the competition.



Handball: the Blue want to impose their law on the world championship

Their Olympic title is still hot. Barely four months since they went to look for this holy grail, the only one missing from their record of double world champions (in 2003 and 2017) and European champions (2018), and here we are again the Bleues du handball giving the work on the trade.

→ READ. Tokyo Olympics: French handball players hold their first Olympic coronation

Against Angola, they begin their world championship on Friday, December 3 (which opened on Wednesday in Spain) with the ambition to mark their sport as did the French men’s team, which had a great time knocking out the competition between 2008 and 2012, triumphing at the Beijing Games before winning almost everything (except Euro 2012) on the international scene and winning the Olympic double in London. “The boys were able to stay at the top, evolve without questioning everything, and this is an example for us, comments coach Olivier Krumbholz. But we have perfectly established systems in front of us on the side of Norway or Russia, and teams which will now play against the Olympic champions in each time of reference matches. So we are full of humility. While being aware of the value of this group. “

Sustainable performance

Have they reached such a degree of maturity that they can display great certainties, the daughters of Olivier Krumbholz? “Nothing is obviously guaranteed, warns the president of the French Handball Federation, Philippe Bana. But the French women’s team has demonstrated for twenty years a capacity to produce sustainable performance. So betting on a presence of the Blue in the last four seems rational to me. “ And the federal boss listed the ingredients for success: “Since training, a whole journey that makes girls grow and leads them to success, a French championship which in my opinion has become the best in the world, clubs that also shine on a European scale, in short, all the flashing lights are green. And the Olympic conquest blew up the last psychological barrier. “

This long-awaited gold medal, the psychologist Richard Ouvrard has helped to find it by accompanying the Blue since 2016. The adventure ended after Tokyo and he now works with the French basketball teams. But the expert, very attached to the collective and the technical support of the Bleues du handball, is also convinced of the potential of “This exceptional generation” : “The group is smart. The girls communicate very well together, they have the resources to be on the world podium. “

Maintain public attention until 2024

However, we know how difficult it is often to bounce back from a major title in the same year. Moreover, only the Danes in 1996 after the Atlanta Games or the Norwegians in 2008 after those in Beijing managed to double the stake on the competition following their Olympic victory, a European championship in this case. “What can hinder performance is not to put the site back on the ground, indicates Richard Ouvrard. I usually say that when you are at the top, before wanting to conquer another, you must first descend from the mountain. When everything is shining, it’s hard to come back to yourself and refocus. “

Olivier Krumbholz masters this metaphor of the mountain very well. “I have the experience of success and failure with this group, he lets go, referring to the 2019 World Cup where the Blue, eliminated from the start, finished in a sad 13e square. Staying mobilized is complicated. That’s why I’m quite happy with our two preparation matches won against Hungary, especially the second where we went to snatch the victory by one point. “

In this new long-term campaign for Les Bleues, the strategist does not want to focus on Paris 2024, even if the deadline is not neutral. “It’s obviously on everyone’s mind, admits Olivier Krumbholz, but to prepare well for 2024, we must continue to shine. Because our goal is to bring a fervent audience behind us in Paris, and we know very well that we must therefore keep our attention until then. “ It is the constraint of excellence of French handball. “Our discipline has the singularity of rekindling the light every year on a major event, and we have to be there, concludes Philippe Bana. But on the horizon, the absolute quest obviously remains these Home Games. Our champions have won everything except that. It’s the only thing we’ve never done. And these girls can do it. “


A World Marathon

The Obstacle Course for Les Bleues begins on Friday 3 December, with the first match of their preliminary round against Angola. Then will come the two other meetings of their group A, against Slovenia on December 5 and Montenegro on the 7. The first three will be qualified with their points acquired for the main round, where the teams will cross with the group B of the Russia and Serbia between December 9 and 13. Only the first two of each of the four groups of this main round will advance to the quarter-finals from December 14, for a final scheduled on December 19.



Tokyo Olympics: French handball players hold their first Olympic coronation

As soon as they entered the game, you could swear that nothing was going to resist them. There is this joyful tranquility on the faces, combined with this rage to win in the looks. And finally its luxury spectators to support them from the stands of the Yoyogi Stadium: the French handball players, some with the gold medal around their necks, sing the Marseillaise at the top of their lungs to accompany them.

→ READ. Tokyo Olympics: the Blues of volleyball, finally an Olympic title in their net

On Sunday August 8, the French handball players achieved the feat against the Russians, winning the only title that was missing from their wallet: Olympic gold. Five years after a final lost in Rio against the same Russians (22-19), they dominate the game and take their revenge in Tokyo (30-25), while their Olympic tournament had started in pain.

We had a delicate, difficult course, but we were able to progress from match to match ”, comments coach Olivier Krumbholz. In groups, the Blue had lost against Spain and Russia, which they therefore found in the final. Recalled before Rio after having held this position from 1998 to 2013, Olivier Krumbholz is delighted with the balance found since: “ There is a very good complementarity between the young and the old.

As if to add suspense to a game while in control, the Blue were glued to the score at the start of the second period (16-16). Everything then has to be rebuilt. It will only take a few minutes: two goals from Océane Sercien-Ugolin pave the way for a recital, coupled with decisive stops by goalkeeper Cléopatre Darleux.

Sumptuous weekend for the Blues

Les Bleues were able to demonstrate their unity throughout the competition. ” When you see us laughing all the time, explains Béatrice Edwige. Everything is sincere. It matches perfectly between us. On the podium, goalkeeper Amandine Leynaud, one of the captains, presented the medals to each of her teammates, often in tears.

While most of the French medalists returned to France, the French handball players were the last to be able to bring the country up, 10th Sunday morning, in the medal ranking. Their victory allows them to climb to 8th place and to equal the number of titles of Rio (10).

→ READ ALSO. Tokyo Olympics: the French handball team achieves a historic Olympic treble

This performance ends a sumptuous weekend for French team sports. On Saturday, the Blues in handball and volleyball won gold, basketball players silver, and their female counterparts bronze. Now we are on course for 2024. ” The Olympics in Paris will be the competition of the century », Announces Olivier Krumbholz.



Tokyo Olympics: the French handball team achieves a historic Olympic treble

The Blues have their revenge. Five after their defeat in Rio, the French team beat Denmark on Saturday August 7 in the final of the Tokyo Olympic Games, at the Yoyogi National Stadium.

The band trained by Guillaume Gille signs an unprecedented performance in the discipline by winning its third gold medal after those of Beijing (2008) and London (2012). The opportunity was therefore missed in 2016 in Rio, in the final against the same Danes. It is also the crowning of individual careers: Nikola Karabatic, Luc Abolo and Michaël Guigou now have three gold medals to their list.

Basketball, the Blue pocket the bronze in Tokyo

After a sluggish start to the first period during which each side was faced with a very strong defensive block, the Blues were able to unlock the counter and finish the first period with a 4 point lead. They began to tremble in the second half when, after the temporary exclusion of Luc Abalo and Dika Mem, the Danes glued back to one goal away. The giant Danish leader Mikkel Hansen (1.96 m), author of 9 goals, gave a hard time to the French defense but the Blues, without ever failing, won 25 to 23.

Anne Hidalgo and the Danish clan

In this stadium located in the heart of the Shibuya district, the French played under the watchful eye of the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, who is due to receive the Olympic flag during the handover ceremony on Sunday, three years before the Paris Games.

Tokyo Olympics: French basketball players fail to overthrow the American mountain

The Danes had a whole clan behind them: around fifty people from the delegation unfurled a large flag and applauded their players as one man with each favorable action. French side, more timid ” Go the Blues Arose from the stands. More than a hundred Games volunteers were able to attend the final.

The return after the “crisis”

The match was the revenge of that of August 21, 2016, in the Rio Olympics final. The “ Experts Blues were the arch-dominators of the circuit and the Danes the outsiders. France had fallen from a height, prevented from achieving its Olympic treble (28-26). The trajectories had since reversed.

Tokyo Olympics: in search of new challenges, French coaches export their know-how

While Denmark was establishing its legitimacy by winning the last two world championships (2019 and 2021), France was going through a difficult period: third in 2019, then eliminated in the preliminary round of Euro 2020, a failure which cost its place in coach Didier Dinart, replaced by Guillaume Gille in January 2020.

The last two years were complex, confirmed Philippe Bana, president of the French handball federation, before the final. There was a crisis, the change of coach, a new staff. It’s been a kind of reconstruction for a year and a half.

The success of team sports

They are not the only French to have shone at the end of the Games in Tokyo. This last weekend is particularly busy for French team sports.Earlier in the day on Saturday, the French basketball players won the silver medal, stumbling in the final against the “ Mountain American. Their female counterparts won bronze by beating Serbia. Unexpected at this stage of the competition, the French volleyball players faced the Russians in the final on Saturday.

At the Tokyo Olympics, France shines as a collective

Sunday at 8 am (French time), the handball players also have an appointment with history. Their very first Olympic title reaches out to them. For that, it will be necessary to defeat Russia, against whom they had bowed in Rio in 2016. Here too, it is a story of revenge.



At the Tokyo Olympics, France shines as a collective

It is an unexpected equation that the presidents of the French basketball, handball and volleyball federations tried to solve on Wednesday August 4. “We wondered how we were going to do if all the teams had to come home on Monday, with a medal, laughs the president of the handball federation, Philippe Bana. Because there will be no more room on the plane! Puzzle of the privileged.

→ EDITORIAL. “Together” at the Tokyo Olympics

Four hours after this meeting, France confirmed a full historical record: the French basketball players joined the men’s hand, volleyball and basketball teams, also qualifying for the last four. And thus prolonging their stay in Tokyo until the end of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, this weekend.

“The Olympics have become a Holy Grail for our handball players”

In the empty enclosure of the Yoyogi gymnasium, in the heart of the Shibuya district in Tokyo, Wednesday, August 4, the Blue handball have mastered the game against the Dutch, reigning world champions (32-22). Relentless. They will face Sweden on Friday at 10 a.m. (French time).

→ ANALYSIS. Medals at the Tokyo Olympics: the French women at the rendezvous, not the men

If the stands were empty, the players got into the clothes of their own supporters, never ceasing to encourage and applaud each other from the bench and on the field. And to exult at the final whistle: “We are in semis, we are in semis! “

“The opponent is very, very good, it’s a team that is able to go to the end”, can only recognize the French coach of the Netherlands, Emmanuel Mayonnade. “Over time, the French handball clock has set to Olympic time, rejoices Philippe Bana. The Olympics have become a Holy Grail for our handball players, which is not the case in all sports. We manage to transmit this trademark. Each team is made up of three thirds: the rookies (young people), the middle class (who have already done international competitions) and the tauliers, responsible for ensuring the transmission. “

Communicative joy

Like a wink from fate, thirty kilometers further north, the tricolor basketball players were also scrapping for a place in the semi-finals. They won on the wire against Spain (67-64). They will face Japan on Friday at 1 p.m. and will be keen to do better than in Rio (4e) and in London (2e).

“Going to the hall, we saw the basketball players also leave. We said to each other: ‘go sports co’, we are all going to the semi-finals togethere“”, smiles handball player Laura Flippes, after the match. Deal. “We’re super happy for team sports. We watch them play, we try to learn from their strength! “, continues her teammate Méline Nocandy.

Among the men of “BHV” (basketball, hand, volleyball), the places in the semi-finals were already assured since Tuesday evening. The three meetings will take place on Thursday August 5th. Some were expected in the last square. The Blues of handball have mastered their course from start to finish and outclassed Bahrain in the quarterfinals (42-28). Six times world champions, the Habs are on a series of three consecutive Olympic finals: silver in Rio, gold in London and Beijing. They face Egypt at 10 a.m.

“The match of a career”

Others are coming back to life after two decades of Olympic scarcity. The French basketball players, led by captain Nicolas Batum, started their competition with a bang, with a victory against the United States in pools and defeated Italy on Tuesday August 3rd. They face Slovenia at 1 p.m. for a place in the final. “It’s the match of a career”, warned coach Vincent Collet.

→ READ. Tokyo Olympics: in search of new challenges, French coaches export their know-how

French volleyball players, who are themselves, by their own admission, “Survivors”, took their place by forceps, reaching the finals for the first time in five appearances. After a failed start to the tournament, they overthrew the two-time world champion Poland. They meet Argentina at 2 p.m. Thursday August 5 and do not plan to stop there.

The collective responds

“An alignment of the planets” for team sports, summarizes Philippe Bana. And so many chances of medals for a France behind on its previous Olympic record. Because when the individual trajectories of Teddy Riner, Mélina Robert-Michon, Renaud Lavillenie or even Alexandra Tavernier shatter, the collective responds very much.

Mixed team judo and triathlon, team fencing, women’s rugby sevens… Eight of France’s twenty-five medals were gleaned by teams. Among team sports, only football disappointed, eliminated in qualifying. “Faster, higher, stronger, together”, says the new Olympic motto. The French apply it to the letter.


The consistency of technicians

A common point in this French “Big Five” qualified in the last four? Perhaps we should look for it on the side of the experience of the coaches. Four of them have been in this post for a long time. Valérie Garnier has been working with French basketball players since 2013, Vincent Collet has been accompanying their male counterparts since 2009. In volleyball, Laurent Tillie has been officiating since 2012. In hand, Olivier Krumbholz has been coaching Les Bleues since 1998, with a hiatus from 2013 to 2016. Guillaume Gille is meanwhile arrived in 2020 to coach the men’s team. But he won two gold medals at the Olympics (2008 and 2012) as a player.