French sportsmen find their colors in Tokyo



Bronze in triathlon, silver in windsurfing (twice), rugby sevens and fencing, and gold in team judo: France, which until then had 13 medals since the start of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, saw all the colors, Saturday July 31, and had its best day. It now has 19 medals, including four in gold, which ranks it 8th among nations, far from China and the United States, however, 45 medals each at the same time.

The triathletes got the ball rolling

It was the triathlon mixed relay team that paved the way, in the heart of the French night, finally opening the Olympic medal counter in the young history of this discipline – which appeared in 2000 in Sydney – where the French nevertheless displayed very good results in international competitions throughout the year. During the Japanese morning, the French triathletes won the bronze medal. A great consolation after the failure of Vincent Luis, world champion in the discipline, in individual at the beginning of the week.

Triple reigning world champions in the specialty, Léonie Périault, Dorian Coninx, Cassandre Beaugrand and Vincent Luis finished behind Great Britain (1st) and the United States (2nd) in this new format at the Olympics, which each consists of torchbearers to perform a “short distance” triathlon (300 m swimming, 6.8 km cycling, 2 km running).

Windsurfing silver lining

A few hours later, when France woke up or was already heading for vacation, Charline Picon, defending champion in Rio in 2016, then Thomas Goyard, for whom it was the first Games, each obtained the silver in windsurfing RS: X on the Enoshima body of water. The 36-year-old Charentaise champion did it in the most beautiful way, winning the final regatta on her daughter Lou’s 4th birthday. However, she must lose for gold against China’s Lu Yunxiu.

The New Caledonian Thomas Goyard, he preserved the essential despite a disqualification for having anticipated the start, like two of his competitors. The Dutchman Kiran Badloe, wearing a magnificent blue crest, won the title.

After these very good beginnings, it was the collectives who brought great satisfaction to the French side. That of the girls of rugby sevens, first of all, who could not do anything against New Zealand in the final, beaten 26 to 12, but had succeeded a few hours earlier in the semi-final, to overcome a formidable British team, dominated by 26 points to 19. The French players could never worry the reigning double world champions, but they did much better than in the 2018 World Cup final, when the Neo Zealander had crushed France 29-0.

The other satisfactions came from the two sports which shone in the first week, then, in this case judo and fencing, two French “specialties”.

The sabers Cécilia Berder, Manon Brunet, Sara Balzer and Charlotte Lembach achieved a great performance by dismissing the Italians in the semifinals to become Olympic vice-champions against the defending champion Russia who had two individual medalists in its ranks. including recent gold medalist Sofia Pozdniakova. The Russians won by 45 touches to 41. For the French fencers, it was the first Olympic saber final.

France stronger than Japan in judo

In judo, too, it was a first: that of the mixed team event, entered for the first time on the Olympic program, and which proved to be as interesting as it was spectacular, offering a gala final between the two. nations which dominated the judo week at the Nippon Budokan: France, but also Japan, often dominant individually but clearly beaten (4 wins to one) by the French team, led by its leaders Clarisse Agbégnénou and Teddy Riner.

These two exceptional champions contributed to this fourth gold medal for the French delegation. Clarisse Agbégnénou, standard bearer of the Blues and already crowned the previous Tuesday in individual in less than 63 kg, even managed the feat of beating the Japanese Chizuru Arai, Olympic champion in the upper category of less than 70 kg.

This collective gold medal, notably shared with Sarah-Léonie Cysique (under 57 kg), Margaux Pinot (under 70 kg), Guillaume Chaine (under 73 kg), Axel Clerget (under 90 kg) and Romane Dicko (over 78 kg), crowns the superb week of French judo, which had already collected seven individual awards, equaling the records of Barcelona-1992 and London-2012.

On this day when France was finally at the party in these Olympics, we must add more good news: the qualification in athletics of pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie for the final, thanks to a jump to 5.75 m.

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