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.



Volleyball can finally capitalize on the Olympic effect

Barely time to breathe and here they are, putting their very recent supremacy back into play. The Blues of volleyball hung gold around their necks in Tokyo, but impossible to fall asleep on these Olympic laurels: since last week, they are on the track for the European title. For now, after three first games, the Blues live up to their brand new reputation. May the great adventure continue is all that France hopes for from volleyball. In the clubs, we are betting on the famous “Olympic effect” which basketball and handball have already benefited from in the past.

“The feedback that has come to us from the field over the past two weeks shows a strong increase in applications for licenses among young people, rejoices Éric Tanguy, the president of the French Volleyball Federation. Even the multisport federations that offer volleyball feel a new craze for the discipline. “

President of the Rhône committee and in charge of development at the FFVolley, Michelle Akilian applauds this new impetus, but also knows that long-term work is ahead: “After a good Games, attracting kids, everyone knows how to do it, explains the leader. But it’s more difficult to keep them afterwards. “

A very unique context

This is what is at stake for a federation confronted for the first time with this “Happiness to be champion” evoked with a huge smile Jérôme Heilmann, president for seven years for the destinies of ASVB Yutz-Thionville, Moselle training club. “The Olympics effect is especially important in terms of image: the performance of the France team is finally obvious. Afterwards, on the reception of the licensees, it will be necessary to be good, because this year, we are not the only ones to have triumphed at the Games. “

→ ANALYSIS. At the Tokyo Olympics, France shines as a collective

The success of almost all team sports in Tokyo, “It is also a risk of scrambling to obtain time slots in the gymnasiums”, emphasizes Michelle Akilian. All in a very specific context: the prospect of Paris 2024 pushes to increase development actions, but the health crisis can slow down the enthusiasm. From September 30, young people over 12 years old must present the health pass to practice in a club.

“The subject is more the management of controls than a risk of seeing many licensees escape us because of this requirement,” nuance Valentin Delalande, president of Cholet Volley resulting last July from the merger of two former local clubs. Moreover, for most parents, this health pass is even rather reassuring, ensuring a less risky practice. So we adapt. This is one of the lessons of this Covid period: it forces us to change, to think about new practices. Our decision to merge has been accelerated, and we hope to increase from 130 to 250 redundants in the next five years. “

Multiply innovative practices

In the clubs, which on average lost 20% of their troops with the health crisis, the Olympic form of volleyball is the perfect opportunity to bounce back. “We try a lot of things, for example with us a project to welcome children from 18 months, highlights Jérôme Heilmann. This helps develop motor skills, and maybe tackle volleyball lessons from 8 years old rather than waiting 12 or 13 years like today and involving parents who can become volunteers or future leaders. “

Paris 2024 also requires increasing numbers to be on time. The FFVolley is therefore struggling to develop sitting volleyball. A challenge, because the ministerial delegation did not fall until 2017, the Handisport Federation previously managing the case. “We started from zero, and it is quite difficult to find athletes, especially among women, to present competitive teams in 2024”, recognizes Éric Tanguy.

→ INVESTIGATION. Volleyball seeks a new economic model

The clubs, in any case, are mobilized on all floors. Example in the Toulouse suburbs, at the Grenade Volley Ball, 130 licensees. Educator Laurent Cassi is pushing seated volleyball by betting on the promotion provided by broadcasts during the Paralympics. “The practice can be mixed, with able-bodied, and it’s great, assures the technician. It is on this diversity that we must bet. Also with the beach, in vogue, because the Covid pushes us to rediscover the outdoors. Or fit volleyball, a mixture of games and muscle and cardiac strengthening exercises to gently resume a sporting activity. We can do anything under the net. “


A Euro well underway

Appetite comes with eating ? The France team has eaten this Olympic gold that it has been waiting for so long, but which is not enough to satiate it. The desire to devour everything is there for this Euro 2021 started by the Blues on September 3, and which for the moment confirms the conquering momentum.

The men of the new Brazilian coach Bernardinho – who won everything with the national women’s and men’s teams in his country – made short work of the start of Slovakia (3-0), then continued the banquet against Croatia (3-0). Facing Germany, Monday, September 6, the Blues had to work to beat the toughest opponent in their group (3-1). But they can calmly consider their qualification in the round of 16 (from September 11) before ending the knockout phase against Latvia, this Wednesday, September 8, and Estonia the next day.



The two Afghan Paralympic athletes welcomed by France

The two Afghan athletes who participated in the Tokyo Paralympic Games were welcomed by France, sports minister Roxana Maracineanu announced on Friday, August 10. “They wanted to come back to France, and we welcomed them like thousands of Afghans”, assured the minister.

These two athletes, Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli, whose participation in the Paralympic Games was almost prevented by the arrival of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan, landed on French soil shortly after the end of the Games, whose closing ceremony was took place on Sunday.

→ ANALYSIS. Afghanistan: reception is organized for refugees who have landed in France

The two athletes had already passed through France in August. The sports ministry, in collaboration with the military ministry and the foreign ministry, had indeed managed to evacuate them from Kabul to Paris, a few days before the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games on August 24.

Taekwondo and athletics

“We managed to get these athletes out of Kabul, and then we made sure that these athletes could rest (…) and train” at the National Institute of Sports Expertise and Performance (Insep), recalled Roxana Maracineanu.

Arrived on August 28 in Tokyo, they were greeted by the President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Andrew Parsons upon their arrival on Japanese soil. They were able to participate in their respective events, taekwondo for Zakia Khudadadi and the 400m in athletics for Hossain Rasouli, who lost his left arm in a mine explosion.

“I followed them a bit (in Tokyo, editor’s note). You know that I have a past quite close to theirs since I too arrived in France as a refugee (in 1984 from Romania, editor’s note), so I am very sensitive to their situation today ”, added the minister.

“I also know the dangers that threaten them and their families”, said Roxana Maracineanu, who did not wish to say more about their situation ” For safety reasons “.



Paralympic Games: the strong momentum of the Blues before 2024

It needed a beautiful end. Lucas Mazur therefore took charge of the ultimate fireworks display, by awarding himself two medals for the last day of the Paralympics in Tokyo this Sunday, September 5: silver in mixed doubles with Faustine Noël, and especially gold. in individual, record set in stone, the Orléanais doubling on the podium for the first appearance of badminton at the Paralympics.

→ THE NEWS. Paralympic Games: Lucas Mazur, eleventh and last French gold medal in Tokyo

The world number one in the discipline has not flinched, even if it came close to missing the highest step, the first set lost and the third badly started against his Indian opponent Suhas Yathiraj (15-21, 21-17, 21-15). “In these moments, I look for strong moments, moments of love with my family, with my coach and my friends, said the French. It helped me a lot. Today my victory is for everyone. “

France 14e on the medal board

It crowns for France an unexpected balance sheet. The French delegation showed measured ambition before Tokyo by targeting 35 charms. She returns with the bag filled beyond her expectations. With 54 medals, the Blues are doing much better than Rio (28) and London (45). However, in the final standings, France only points to 14e place on the medal table (12e in Rio), far behind China and Great Britain, ahead of Azerbaijan (10e) or Iran (13e).

→ MAINTENANCE. Paralympic Games: “Let’s show that disabled athletes exist and perform well”

The fault with the priority taking into account of the gold medals, France being satisfied with only 11 Paralympic titles. “We too often miss the top of the podiums, just as we accumulate too many fourth and fifth places, recognizes Élie Patrigeon, the general manager of the French Paralympic and Sports Committee. However, we can say to ourselves that a great dynamic is underway to perform even better in Paris in 2024..

In the satisfaction department, the Blues of cycling come largely in the lead. The eight French (plus two pilots) won 16 medals, including five gold. A real explosion compared to the poor races carried out in London (twice the bronze) or Rio (only one bronze medal).

For three years, under the leadership of former champion Laurent Thirionet who became manager of the France team, the Blues have recovered their health thanks to new human and financial resources. The budget is still well below the 8 million euros spent on paracycling by Great Britain (19 medals and 8 titles in Tokyo), but the performance bears comparison, with champions who, with one exception, were discovering the Paralympics.

Increasingly professional supervision

The same momentum is observed on the side of the 13 Blues of table tennis, who bring back 11 medals, including two in gold. The two disciplines alone provide almost half of the French balance sheet. “They reflect a general favorable development in recent years, with stronger support from the State and sponsors who provide more resources and allow better preparation with significantly more effective supervision., emphasizes Élie Patrigeon. There is a real professionalization of the training cells around the athletes, with experts in each discipline who adapt to the handicaps of the champions and not the other way around. “

This structuring effort remains to be developed in athletics and swimming, two great Paralympic sports where France still sins. Team sports also require a new mobilization. The blind football team, Paralympic vice-champion in 2012, fell from high in Tokyo, last in the tournament with four losses. That of wheelchair rugby is only fifth. And France was absent in basketball and volleyball. “It is always difficult to form teams in disabled sports”, admits Élie Patrigeon.

Paris is envisioned with enthusiasm

The downsides do not prevent the delegation from considering the next three years with gluttony. Unlike able-bodied athletes, those of the Paralympics are on the right track before Paris 2024. And the director of the Paralympic Committee is enthusiastic: “Faced with the Games that are sometimes criticized, I am convinced that the Paralympics are a tremendous source of growth for the Olympic world. “

Tony Estanguet, the president of the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee, is in any case convinced that the French event must be based on these two pillars: “The success of Paris 2024 depends on the Paralympics. “ It is said.


Expand the French delegation in Paris

With 138 athletes (and 15 guides), France presented a delegation in Tokyo that was barely larger than in Rio (126). Its athletes lined up in 17 of the 22 disciplines, but were only entered in 25% of the events. “We cannot be present everywhere, but we must question ourselves in order to be capable of more diversity in the future”judge
Élie Patrigeon. Three years remain to swell the French delegation in Paris and multiply the chances of the podium.



Paralympic Games: the puzzle of categories of disabilities

The group stages of wheelchair basketball began this Wednesday at 2 a.m. (French time), without France who could not qualify. A disappointment for the selection of the 153 Blues delegates to Tokyo, but one less equation to solve for the technical staff, who will not spend their matches counting to 14.

This figure, the sum of the handicap coefficients attributed to each of the five players on the floor (from 0.5 for the most handicapped to 4.5 for the most able-bodied) is the maximum authorized in official competition. A miscalculation at the time of a substitution may lead to disqualification.

“It’s an arithmetic exercise that the coaches have to do with each change of player, it’s complex, but you get used to it”, says Pierrick Giraudeau, high performance mister at the Handisport Federation. During the thirteen days of competition (August 24-September 5), as a consultant for France Télévisions, he will try to share with viewers all the subtleties of a Paralympism more complex to follow than its valid cousin.

In the Paralympic Games, in fact, the athletes do not start on an equal footing. Everyone comes with a disability, an illness, sequelae, which must be taken into account to ensure fairness. We find all this in a complex table of categories that has been refined over the years since the first Paralympic events, on the sidelines of the London Games in 1948. Until the Tokyo Games which present 22 sports (11 less than valid) including two newcomers, parataekwondo and parabadminton, which also had to pass through the categories.

More medals awarded to Paralympics

Each sport is assigned a letter corresponding to its name in English, S for swimming or T for track. A number follows the letter, indicating the specificity of the handicap (paralysis, mastery or not of the abdominals, upper or lower limb missing, etc.).

Without forgetting, within these classes, sub-categories linked to the specificities of blind people or people with mental or psychological disabilities. The latter being accepted in three of the 22 sports present at the Paralympic Games: table tennis, athletics and swimming (read below).

→ PORTRAIT. Paralympic Games: for Marie-Amélie Le Fur, “sport is the best way to cope with your handicap”

No athlete can compete without having gone through the formidable ordeal of classification. It is about a medical and sporting examination before a commission of international experts (the classifiers) which determine the category of each one, with important sporting consequences.

Certain playing fields are indeed more or less crowded than others, with therefore more or less great chances of success. “I have personally never seen cheating to fit into an easier category, but it has happened, explains Pierrick Giraudeau. In this case, not only is the athlete disqualified, but it also impacts the federation and the nation which presented him ”.

29 gold medalists in the 100m

The multiplication of events leads to a much larger table of medals than for valid Games. 340 Olympic titles were distributed to 10,900 athletes at the valid Games. The Paralympics will be much more generous with 539 gold medals awarded to the 4,500 selected athletes. In the 100m alone, sixteen men and thirteen women will receive a gold medal.

This profusion poses major logistical problems (the protocol ceremonies are interminable) and readability for the media. She also questions the value of these titles, some of which reward athletes who have supplanted a very limited number of competitors. “Sport is about fighting on equal terms, so I don’t see how we could do without categories, but we must be able to improve things”, continues Pierrick Giraudeau.

It evokes the system adopted on the tracks of the winter Paralympics where, for each descent, the stopwatch is run at a different rate depending on the handicap: fast for people with less disabilities, slowly for heavier cases. This makes it possible to register all the athletes in the same race and therefore to limit the number.


The cheating that disqualified the mentally handicapped

The mentally handicapped, long integrated into the Paralympic Games, were deprived of celebration between 2000 and 2012 following cheating. The case is famous, it has also been the subject of a film adaptation, and it features the Spanish handibasket team which sent false mentally handicapped people to the Paralympic Games in Sydney.

The huge scandal that followed the discovery of the pot aux roses led to the disappearance of mental disabilities at the Athens and Beijing Games, on the grounds that the criteria for participation were too vague.

They made their return to the London Games in 2012 but remain limited to three sports for now, athletics, swimming and table tennis. With a precise criterion: the athletes must present an intellectual coefficient lower than 70, figure considered as the limit between handicap and normality.



Tokyo Olympics: French foilists Olympic champions

They gave the Blues their fifth gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. The French foilists won the Olympic title against the Russians competing under the neutral flag (45-28), Sunday 1er August in Chiba.

The French, finalists in Rio against the Russians, thus won their first men’s foil title since Sydney-2000. This is the 21e French medal in Tokyo.

In the final, Enzo Lefort, 2019 world champion, and Erwann le Pechoux, both silver medalists at Rio-2016, as well as Julien Mertine, did not have much trouble to dominate (45-28) the twin brothers Anton and Kirill Borodachev (21), until then only titled in the juniors, supported by Timur Safin, who was already part of the Russian Olympic champion team in Rio.

Revenge on Rio

Without really trembling, despite a few more laborious stints, the Blues, who had lost in Rio after dominating a good part of the match, took their revenge. With five medals, including two titles (boys in foil and Romain Cannone in épée), French fencing in Tokyo is doing better than in Rio-2016 (3 medals, including one title).

→ REPORT. Tokyo Olympics: French foilists get silver medal

Manon Brunet won bronze in saber on Monday, foilists Ysaora Thibus, Pauline Ranvier, Astrid Guyart and Anita Blaze brought in silver from Tokyo on Thursday, as did sabers Manon Brunet, Cécilia Berder, Sara Balzer and Charlotte Lembach, Saturday.



At the Tokyo Olympics, Mr. Lange’s appetite for life

He picks up Olympic memories with a shovel. It must be said that the Argentinian Santiago Lange, soon to be 60, is not in his first Games. His life is almost entirely placed under the sign of the rings, since the navigator began to inflate his sails to dock in Olympia in the 1980s.

He was a very young pretender then, encouraged by his father’s sailor who himself had gravitated around the Argentinian sailing team at the Helsinki Games in 1952. After studying naval architect, the young Santiago really saw himself hoisted up. high and he therefore headed for Seoul for the 1988 Games. In South Korea, he finished 9e in the Soling category, a sport keelboat then registered in the program (until 2000).

From one boat to another

But the native of San Isidro, north of Buenos Aires, likes to multiply the challenges and jump from one bridge to another. In tandem, so here he is trying his hand at the Laser category, this small dinghy with which he tackles Atlanta in 1996, then that of the Tornado, these catamarans which ultimately suit him very well. Warm-up in Sydney, and bronze medal twice, in Athens and Beijing. Too easy ?

Not really. He misses London, and when he returns to the Games, in Rio, it is on a Nacra 17 catamaran, with Cecilia Carranza Saroli, 25 years younger, as a partner, and above all, half a lung less. Because the Argentinian was diagnosed with cancer a year earlier. After the shock, hope: an operation is possible. 70% of the upper lobe of his left lung is removed. Nine months before the competition in Rio.

A victory against cancer

To renouncer ? He’s not the kind of guy. “I dreamed of an Olympic medal which escaped me since 1988. Having this ultimate goal in Rio was my main source of motivation”, he recounts. Even with reduced breathing capacity, he forces himself to walk 10 km a day, returns to a body of water a month after his surgery. And the improbable happens: he wins gold in Brazil.

→ READ. Olympic Games: why the best in the world are not always there

Incredible fate. Others would no doubt have dropped anchor for good. Not Santiago. He left for a tour, in Tokyo. He is in the final with his co-sailor, this Tuesday, August 3. Without the possibility of a medal, but what does it matter to him. “I have already won my biggest fight against the disease”, he blurted out. For the rest, it only displays one objective: ” Live ! “. He’s doing it pretty well.



Tokyo Olympics: with Laurel Hubbard, the debate on transgender athletes comes to the Games

Bib 142. Laurel Hubbard, 43 years old. First transgender athlete at the Olympics. It will be 7:50 p.m. in Tokyo (12:50 p.m. in Paris), Monday, August 2, when she will lift her first Olympic dumbbells. And, regardless of the performance, its name in the history of the Olympics.

The New Zealander started weightlifting for men in her youth. Gavin, his name then, was one of the best of his discipline in the archipelago. Among the juniors, she set a national record at 20. Three years then passed on the world circuit, but the pressure was too great. Gavin quits, becomes Laurel, and takes hormone therapy at age 34. In one of her rare speeches, she explains having initially chosen weightlifting thinking that this sport would help her get closer to a “Male archetype”. In vain.

Heated debates

Four years later, it’s time to return to competition. In women this time. Vice-world champion in 2017, in gold at the 2019 Pacific Games and at the 2020 World Cup in Rome… Laurel succeeds, and provokes heated debates. Some of its competitors and scientists consider that this transition after puberty gave it a decisive advantage. His early years of training would have allowed him to acquire superior muscle strength and bone density.

Belgian weightlifter Anna Van Bellinghen, present in Tokyo in the same category (over 87 kg), for example denounced a situation two months ago “Unfair” and requested the development of a framework ” more strict “ on the conditions of participation of transgender athletes.

The performance of the New Zealander in Tokyo will be particularly scrutinized, and could revive the debate. As if to anticipate a possible controversy, the scientific and medical director of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Richard Budgett spoke on FridayJuly 30 at a press conference to defend the rules in force, which according to him guarantee “The balance between security, inclusion and equity”.

→ READ. French sportsmen find their colors in Tokyo

All while recognizing that there is insufficient scientific knowledge to assess the possible benefits of trans athletes, not to mention the consequences. “Physiological and mental” of their transition. On a ridge line, the IOC has announced that its recommendations will be updated in the coming months.

Testosterone level

If Laurel Hubbard is only the first transgender athlete to participate in the Games, the possibility has existed since 2004. The conditions were then to follow hormonal treatment, but also to undergo sex reassignment surgery. This last obligation was withdrawn in 2015. To compete for women, you need a testosterone level of less than 10 nanomoles per liter of blood over the twelve months preceding the first competition. The hormone, produced more extensively in men, improves strength, power and speed. It could be at the center of future debates.

So much for the framework, but the rules are then decreed by each international federation, according to the particularities of each sport. That of weightlifting followed the IOC but that of rugby “Do not recommend” the participation of transgender women in high-level competitions, ” For safety reasons “. And several federations, including those of athletics and cycling, go further than the IOC by placing the limit at 5 nanomoles per liter.

If Laurel Hubbard is the first transgender woman to compete in the Olympics after a start in her career with men, a non-binary transgender athlete – feeling neither a man nor a woman, or both at the same time – has already trod the Japanese lawns during these Games. This is Quinn, a member of the Canadian women’s football team.



Tokyo Olympics: bronze medal for the French equestrian team in the eventing

A 23e medal for the Blues: the French eventing team, gold medalist in 2016 at the Rio Olympics, won bronze at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday, August 2, behind Great Britain and Australia.

→ ANALYSIS. Tokyo Olympics: in horse riding, team spirit first

Ninth after the dressage and third after the cross, the French Nicolas Touzaint, Karim Laghouag and Christopher Six finally retained their position after the show jumping. Nicolas Touzaint managed a clear round with a simple light penalty for overtaking the time. Karim Laghouag for his part committed a fault (four penalty points), while Christopher Six had a perfect course, without fault or penalty.

Last show jumping course Monday at 8:45 p.m.

They are all three qualified for the final of the individual event which brings together the 25 best riders of the three days of competition. Before the last show jumping course, scheduled this Monday at 8:45 p.m. local (1:45 p.m. French) at the end of which the individual Olympic title will be awarded, Christopher Six is ​​6e with 31.20 points, not far from the leader, the German Julia Krajewski (25.60 pts). Nicolas Touzaint is 10e (33.90 pts) and Karim Laghouag 13e (36.40 pts).

Of the sacred team in Rio, only Karim Laghouag remains. The bronze is still a great reward for the France team, which has suffered a cascade of forfeits and had to be largely reworked.

→ READ. French sportsmen find their colors in Tokyo

The French thus lost in quick succession just before the Olympics their leader Astier Nicolas, double Olympic medalist in 2016 (team gold and silver in individual), and Thibaut Vallette, also titled in Rio, following injury or illness. of their horses. After his arrival in Tokyo, Thomas Carlile was in turn forced to give up aligning.



Tokyo Olympics: French athletics in search of a new lease of life

“French athletics looking for a medalist”. The ad could have been passed as it is, as the discipline seems to be going through a bad patch among the French. A sad anniversary reminds him of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, that of nine years without a gold medal – the last dates back to London, in 2012, won by Renaud Lavillenie on pole vault.

In running, the last title even dates from a time that the under 20s cannot know: 1996, with the two victories of Marie-José Pérec, over 200 and 400 meters.

→ READ. French sportsmen find their colors in Tokyo

Beyond the quest for the ultimate reward, France does not seem able to achieve the six medals gleaned in Rio in 2016, even if the potential is “From five to six medals”, according to the president of the French athletics federation, André Giraud, who sets the objective of “Regain an Olympic title”. But among the contingent of 66 athletes, barely a handful can claim the coronation in Tokyo.

Kevin Mayer in the thorny favorite costume

One of the expected figures is already out of the game: Mélina Robert-Michon, the Olympic vice-champion in the discus throw. For her sixth Games, she was ousted in qualifying, Saturday July 30, to everyone’s surprise. Another seems weakened: Renaud Lavillenie, who returns from an ankle injury. He went very close to elimination before getting his ticket to the final, scheduled for Tuesday, August 3.

→ LARGE FORMAT. Tokyo Olympics: Mélina Robert-Michon, everything for a gold record

There remains Kevin Mayer, the silver decathlete in Rio, and world record holder since. He will hit the track on Wednesday August 4 with the thorny favorite costume. The Hammer Throwers Alexandra Tavernier (4e world) and Quentin Bigot (5e) could also achieve the feat.

Significant deficiencies in the sprint

But behind these headliners, French athletics is struggling. Especially in the sprint, where the deficiencies are important. A single representative in the 100 meters for men: Jimmy Vicaut, released in the semifinals on Sunday 1er August after a season complicated by injuries and a lack of races. No representative among women. The reverse at 200 meters. It stalls, we are in a hollow, recognizes André Giraud. There were times when we had immense champions. But nothing is linear in sport. “

In the middle distance, the hopes of the final were showered for Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, the 2017 world champion over 800 m, sixth in his semi-final on Sunday 1er August, in pain. But the young Gabriel Tual (23), third in his race, managed to qualify on time.

“The Paris Games will arrive very quickly”

It is on this young guard that the France team counts for 2024. Behind the known figures, there are indeed all those ” who were not yet born when Mélina Robert-Michon discovered the Games in 2000, in Sydney ”, in the words of Florian Rousseau, the director of high performance. In Tokyo, their results are not yet at the rendezvous: Cyréna Samba-Mayela (20 years old) did not start the 100 m hurdles after a pain felt during the warm-up and the pole vaulter Ethan Cormont (20 years) failed to qualify for the pole vault final.

→ ANALYSIS. Olympics: in Tokyo, Paris 2024 in sight for the French

Sprinter Gémima Joseph (19) is expected in the 200m on Monday August 2. Ludovic Ouceni (20 years old) on 4 x 400 m on Friday August 6. “We are already working on this young generation, the Paris Games will arrive very quickly”, put Florian Rousseau. The harvest of medals at the European hopefuls championship in Tallinn (Estonia) in July may augur well for a bright future.

The “Insep syndrome”

To make sure of this, one of the important axes of work today relates to the accompaniment of the overseas hopes, which always represented “An important contribution”, notes André Giraud. In Tokyo, ten of the Blues of the delegation are from overseas.

The federation has lost many of these promising young people by wanting at all costs to support them at the National Institute of Sport in Paris. What the president calls the ” Insep syndrome “. It is absolutely necessary to put in place a system that allows you to pursue your career without family uprooting., he continues. This requires in particular the close relations that we have with local communities..

Ludvy Vaillant, 26, will not say the opposite. He still trains on his native island, Martinique. It is important to stay at home. Champions train with their entourage. Why should we ultramarines leave our environment?, he supports after his elimination in the semi-finals of the 400 m hurdles on Sunday 1er August. Before making a wish: “We should put in place more infrastructure. In Martinique, we only have two good quality stadiums, which is not enough. “