Olympic Games: Onesta plan to glean more medals in Paris

For weeks, we could feel the pot boiling on the side of the high performance cell and its director Claude Onesta. Present on all fields in Tokyo, the former boss of the French multi-medal handball team, returned from Japan disappointed by the overall performance of French athletes. “We lacked perspective on the level of our athletes because the pandemic had stopped competitions around the world and disrupted training. We hoped to be at least at the level of Rio in 2016 and we are far below “, he observes.

→ ANALYSIS. Tokyo Olympics: for the Blues, the account is not so good

The Blues brought back only 33 medals, against 42 in Rio, and the extraordinary performance of team sports, such as the good results of judo and fencing, did not mask some severe accidents, in athletics and swimming. particularly. These two disciplines are particularly targeted by the plan of attack developed, Tuesday, October 5, by Claude Onesta, in the presence of the Minister of Sports, Roxana Maracineanu. They represent a major stake, giving alone more than 250 medals, that is to say nearly a quarter of the rewards distributed during an Olympiad.

Generalization of the high performance unit in federations

These federations and a few others will therefore be the subject of specific support and their management will henceforth be remote-controlled by the ministry and the performance unit headed by Claude Onesta. This violation of the rule of independence of federations is clearly supported by its supervising minister. Which is engaged in the recruitment of a new national technical director for athletics and a performance director, after the defection of the former cyclist Florian Rousseau who threw in the towel after Tokyo.

These two functions – development of mass practice and high-level supervision – today united under the hat of the national technical director, will be systematically duplicated. “This DTN function has become too broad, sometimes those who occupy these positions have never experienced a high level, so each federation must have its own high performance unit, which will work with us”, clarifies Claude Onesta.

Develop the culture of winning

For the former handball player, one of the great problems of French sport is the isolation of athletes with their personal trainer. “75% of athletes are not hosted in state centers, such as Insep and Creps (1). We must send personnel to these structures so that these technicians, often valuable, adhere to the methods allowing their athletes not only to perform well, but also to sublimate themselves on the day of the Olympic final ”, he explains.

→ OUR FILE OG 2024, the Olympic Games in France

This culture of winning, commonplace in Anglo-Saxon or Asian countries, is due to a multitude of details allowing, according to him, an athlete to be relaxed and confident when setting off. “It is not only a question of acting on the psychological level, but of progressing in all the fields, technical, physical, material, which constitute the performance. This is what I call the marginal gains theory, which allows the athlete to be sure that he is going to walk on water on D-Day, because if he does not have the assurance that everything has been done at best, it does not move forward. “

Concretely, the coaches will be better supported, including financially. “We ask guys paid 2,000 to 3,000 € to have an influence on a global competition while being available and sometimes away from home every weekend, it does not work”, he explains. Adding that many renowned French coaches, left to exercise their talents abroad for financial reasons, are being recalled.

Athletes too scattered over the territory

The geographic isolation of athletes also distances them from technical and medical resource centers. Performance houses, sort of regional correspondents for the cell headed by Claude Onesta, will therefore be set up. And the former boss of handball, used to dealing with professional athletes, also relies a lot on the goodwill of team sports clubs, used to managing their players’ problems in a few hours.

Large football and rugby clubs, such as Clermont, have been approached to provide physiotherapists, doctors, and even financial advice. “The first contacts are enthusiastic, because they are happy to help the Olympic movement. This will allow their players to socialize with other athletes and they will be able to communicate about their actions. In fact, everyone wins ”, he continues. Likewise, everyone has an interest in the France team being as efficient as possible in 2024.


Foundation stone for the Arena-Porte de la Chapelle

Anne Hidalgo laid the first stone of the “Arena-Porte de la Chapelle” on Tuesday, October 5, the only construction in Paris ahead of the 2024 Games. The intermediate level sports infrastructure (8,000 places) must accommodate during the Games badminton and rhythmic gymnastics, then para-badminton, para-taekwondo and para-weightlifting competitions. The hall must be delivered in 2023, and outside the Games, host Paris Basketball as a resident club from September 2023. It must also host shows, concerts, conferences, and meet the needs of the inhabitants of the district with the creation of two gymnasiums.



Paralympic Games: tennis, table tennis and cycling, three gold medals for France

The flag bearer of the French team Stéphane Houdet and his doubles partner Nicolas Peifer won the gold medal and retained their title this Friday, September 3 in the final of the wheelchair tennis tournament of the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

The French pair beat Britons Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid 7-5, 0-6, 7-6 (6/3) in a remake of the Rio final five years ago. This medal comes at the end of a game with a crazy scenario with an air gap: a series of nine lost games. “We argued in the second set, explains Stéphane Houdet. I missed a ball and Nico made a gesture of annoyance by letting go of me “since earlier you are doing anything”. “So, we played our own for five games”, summarizes Nicolas Peifer to explain the second set lost 0-6.

The pair finally realized the “Back-to-back” hoped for by the standard bearer on Wednesday, after his elimination in singles against Japanese world No. 1 Shingo Kundieda. “For me, it’s the most beautiful (victory, editor’s note) because repeating is really strong”, relishes Stéphane Houdet.

At 50 years old, Stéphane Houdet, who has 23 Grand Slam titles in singles and doubles, topped his record with a fifth Paralympic medal, a third in gold.

Fabien Lamirault and Stéphane Molliens in table tennis, Kévin Le Cunff in cycling

Still in racket sport, French table tennis players Fabien Lamirault and Stéphane Molliens, already crowned in Rio, also won the gold medal, beating the South Korean pair Soo Yong Cha and Jin Cheol Park in the final.

→ READ ALSO. Paralympic Games: cyclist Alexandre Léauté wins fourth medal

Earlier, the cyclist Kévin Le Cunff had also offered a gold medal to the French team by winning in the road race (category C4-C5). Rémy Boullé, in para canoe, and the tandem Alexandre Lloveras and Corentin Ermenault, in para cycling, meanwhile won bronze in their respective events. France won 10 gold medals and 51 in all.



Paralympic Games: seven new medals for the Blues on Sunday

On the Sea Forest channel in Tokyo, the Blues were smiling this Sunday, August 29. With panache, the French para-rowing team, which had qualified three boats out of four possible for these Games, won two new bronze medals.

Forced to interrupt her career after the Rio Games because of the evolution of her multiple sclerosis, Nathalie Benoit, already a silver medalist at the London Games in 2012, managed to win bronze in the single scull. A performance which undoubtedly over-motivated the mixed team of the “four of peak with coxswain”. Led by Erika Sauzeau, Margot Boulet, Remy Taranto, Antoine Jesel and Robin Le Barreau at the helm, the boat was also invited, a little later in the morning, to the third step of the podium.

→ ANALYSIS. Paralympic Games: the puzzle of categories of disabilities

Disappointment on the other hand in the category two of mixed couple: Perle Bouge, double medalist in London and Rio in 2012 and in 2016, and his new partner Christophe Lavigne, failed at the foot of the podium.

A fifth medal for Souhad Ghazouani

Weightlifters also stood out. By lifting a bar at 132 kg, Souhad Ghazouani finished third in the competition, behind the Brazilian Mariana D’Andrea and the Chinese Xu Lili. Suffered from spina bifida since her birth, the 39-year-old Frenchwoman, who had her first Games in Athens in 2004, now has five Paralympic medals, after gold won in London, two silver medals and now two of bronze.

Hélios Latchoumanaya then confirmed that the hall of Nippon Budokan succeeded in French judo by gleaning a bronze medal in less than 90 kg. The record is more than honorable for visually impaired French judokas in Tokyo, Sandrine Martinet took the silver on Saturday and Nathan Petit lost in the bronze final on Saturday.

A surprise in athletics

The surprise of the day came on the athletics track, with the bronze medal in 400 meters (category T11) of Trésor Makunda, passed in the final in extremis after a repechage on time and for the benefit of the disqualification in the series the day before. on the other Frenchman Timothée Adolphe, for having lost the link attaching him to his guide.

In wheelchair fencing, Romain Noble, Damien Tokatlian and Maxime Valet completed the weekend’s bronze collection by taking the team foil podium.

Money in table tennis

Matéo Bohéas, he, finalist Sunday (Class 11), lost in three sets against the Polish Patryk Hojnowski but, with the money, won his first medal at the Paralympic Games.

With 26 medals, France is gradually approaching the goal set by the French Olympic Committee of at least 35 podiums. In the Nations standings, the Blues are in fifteenth place, far behind China which crushes the competition with 104 medals (46 gold).



Tokyo Olympics: French judokats ready to grab medals

The boys of rugby sevens or French 3×3 basketball missed the Olympic selection while their female comrades are traveling. Girls in mountain biking, pentathlon or sailing are aiming for gold more clearly than their friends, when swimmers could save the day for a French swimming in difficulty. In an Olympic universe where diversity has prevailed, it is logical that women should give the pawn to men, but no discipline is as unbalanced as French judo, where men often have their shoulders on the ground when women trust the podiums.

Behind the giant tree Teddy Riner, who will only appear on the scene on Friday July 30 and the unexpected Luka Mkheidze who achieved the fight of his life, Saturday July 24 by winning bronze (less than 60 kg), hides a desert. From where, however, could emerge Axel Clerget, the only individual medalist in major tournaments since the Rio Olympics in 2016.

→ READ. Luka Mkheidze, first French medal at the Tokyo Olympics

The men’s team is largely made up of 30, who spent part of the pre-Games press conference defending themselves against criticism. “We will answer on the tatami, we still had good results at the European Championships. We’ve been preparing for five years ”, retorts Axel Clerget, who could retire from sports after these Games. In a way, Luka Mkheidze spoke for everyone.

At least three gold medals on the program

But we will especially watch the performance of the women’s team, well led by Amandine Buchard, who won the silver, this Sunday, July 25 in the category of less than 52 kg. All arrived in Tokyo with a sign stuck by the Japanese press on the back of the judogi relaying the shocking title. “Why are they the best? “ of The Spirit of Judo, Authoritative French magazine on tatami mats around the world since it was translated into English …

You have to be sure of yourself to launch such a question, but the president of the French federation, Stéphane Nomis, did not hesitate to add a fresh coat of paint. ” We want at least six medals, three of which are gold ”, he launched in a video designed to introduce the judokas press conference. Putting pressure on Larbi Benboudaoud, director of judo performance, appointed at the start of the season to come to the rescue of a male team in difficulty in recent years.

The quiet force

If the former team paid the price for the boys’ average performance, the women’s coach, Séverine Vandenhende, Olympic champion in 2000 in Sydney, is playing on velvet. “All are medalists but they will have to manage the stress because they discover the Games”, explains the boss of the commando of the seven combatants, whose oldest does not exceed 28 years. We may already be thinking of Paris 2024, Los Angeles 2028, or even Brisbane 2032, as the tricolor reservoir seems inexhaustible. Only one, Clarisse Agbegnenou, experienced the Games in Rio. She is one of the three potentially golden French women, especially since she has revenge to take on Olympus, since the Brazilian disappointment where she was satisfied with the money.

By virtue of the Olympic tradition of combat sports where the lightweights come on the scene first, the four-time world champion (less than 63 kg) will not fight until Tuesday, July 27. Others will follow, Wednesday 28 like Margaux Pinot (less than 70 kg), who took advantage of the postponement of the Games to snatch her selection by taking the upper hand over Marie-Ève ​​Gahié, nothing less than the 2019 world champion. Quiet strength, despite her surprise defeat in the final of the last 2021 World Championships, the 2019 world champion Madeleine Malonga (less than 78 kg) could climb on the top step of the podium, Thursday 29.

France and Japan face to face

The performances of the French women also come from the high number of high-level male fighters. Unlike the Japanese, their main rivals in the medal table who only train with each other, the French regularly shoot against the men at Insep, which allows for a variety of oppositions. They also benefit from the disenchantment with judo in a number of countries which have not been able, or wanted, to follow the professionalization of the discipline among women. Cuba, North Korea and China, once very present, have deserted the tatami mats. More and more often leaving the French and Japanese alone face to face.


Amandine Buchard, the right category

Reigning European champion, Amandine Buchard won the silver medal this Sunday, July 25, only falling in the final against the world number one, the Japanese Uta Abe. Crucial in combat sports, weight management has nevertheless ruined the first part of judokate’s career. Left to be a star of the light weights (less than 48 kg), this small size of 1.60 m finally opted, after a year 2015 concentrated on the preparation of his bac, for the category of less than 52 kg. A choice too late to be selected in Rio. At 26, after ten years of high level, she took her revenge in Tokyo.



Judo: 5 Gold medals for the French women

► Romane Dicko champion for the second time over 78 kg.

French judoka Romane Dicko was crowned European champion in +78 kg for the second time, at age 21, beating Azerbaijani Iryna Kindzerska by ippon in less than two minutes in the final on Saturday, November 21 in Prague.

Romane Dicko won the European title for the first time in 2018. Returning to competition last November after being deprived of it for a year and a half by a double injury to a shoulder and a knee, the young judoka continues her rapid recovery in the world hierarchy eight months before the Tokyo Games postponed to summer 2021. It brings the French delegation its fifth gold medal in European competition, the eighth in total.

► Madeleine Malonga crowned European champion in -78 kg

French judoka Madeleine Malonga (26) was crowned European champion in less than 78 kg for the second time, after 2018, beating German Luise Malzahn on penalties in the final, Saturday in Prague, after nine months without competition . The reigning world champion and world number 2 in the category brings the French delegation its fourth gold medal in the European competition, the seventh overall.

► Clarisse Agbegnenou conquers her 5th European title

Even destabilized by the postponement of the Olympic Games to the summer of 2021 and by the persistent uncertainty generated by the Covid-19 pandemic, Clarisse Agbegnenou continues to make sparks in the less than 63 kg: the judoka has conquered a fifth European coronation after nine months without competition, Friday in Prague.

Judo: 5 Gold medals for the French women

Promised to Olympic gold, the last title missing from her record provided, Clarisse Agbegnenou (28) did not hide having lived badly that the Tokyo Games were postponed by a year. This did not prevent her from finding the resources, even considering herself only 60% of her means, to reign once more on the continental scene.

“There is a lot of pride. It was very complicated for me to come to these European Championships. Physically it was fine, but mentally, I was asking myself a lot of questions “, recognizes the 2016 Olympic vice-champion and quadruple world champion. Until Friday, Agbegnenou had not fought since his victory at the prestigious tournament in Paris in early February. The outbreak of the new coronavirus then resulted in confinement and a long interruption of competitions.

→ EXPLANATION The coronavirus weakens sports associations

On the Czech carpets, she proved from her first two fights, won with authority, the first in barely 1 min 30, the second in 1 min 15, that she had not lost her hand. In the final, she left no chance for her Austrian opponent Magdalena Krssakova, sent to the mat after just 23 seconds.

Between the two, the Dutch Juul Franssen had held the shock for a minute in the golden score (the extension after the regulatory four minutes of combat, Editor’s note) before giving in on a choke.

“I wasn’t looking for the ‘perf’, I said to myself, whatever, above all have fun, have fun, get back on the mat, even if you have to take your time on matches, or if you tell yourself that you don’t be fast enough, that’s okay, it’s an exercise that you have to redo “, says Clarisse Agbegnenou.

► Margaux Pinot confirms her imprint on French judo

Judo: 5 Gold medals for the French women

With this fifth continental gold medal, Margaux Pinot has made her mark even more in the history of French judo. Already the first tri-color judoka quadruple world champion (ahead of Décosse, Emane and Deydier, titled three times), she joins seven other blue fighters among the most richly decorated at the continental level, including Teddy Riner.

In less than 70 kg, Margaux Pinot (26) retained the European title, which she had won for the first time in 2019, by sending the Dutch Sanne Van Dijke in less than a minute in the final. “It’s a good thing to confirm. All you have to do is take it to the next level ”, she congratulated herself.

► Shirine Boukli European champion of -48 kg

The young French judoka Shirine Boukli was crowned European champion under 48 kg at the age of 21, from her first international championship, by sending the Serbian Andrea Stojadinov by ippon to the final on Thursday in Prague. She won in just forty seconds.

On her career, the young Frenchwoman notably defeated the world number 1 in the category, the Kosovare Distria Krasniqi, in the quarter-finals.