The Blues of volleyball, finally an Olympic title in their net

But who are they, these volleyball Blues who for ages have come out of incredible matches, play their competitions on the edge of the precipice, offer a farandole of contrary emotions? They have just planted the last point that gives them the Olympic title in Tokyo, this Saturday, August 7 after a fifth set on a volcano against the Russians, and it is one of the members of the young tricolor guard, Jean Patry, who ends up finding the words at the microphone of France Televisions by evoking “This team of mad people, crazy people, this big family! “.

→ FIND our file on the Tokyo Olympics

And these words really are not overused, because these twelve guys, their trainer Laurent Tillie and all the management, who for years have been pursuing a Grail that has long been inaccessible, form an incredible collective, with close links forged over time. , pitfalls and postponed games. This team is a bunch of friends, on and off the field, and this dimension is not for nothing in this accomplishment, this finally golden trip to Japan.

Forget the disappointment of Rio

They come from afar, these Blues, from nowhere even when, in 2012, Laurent Tillie agrees to take their destiny in hand. The former player, receiver and striker of a French team who had tasted his first Games in 1988 and 1992 (8th and 11th place then), must rebuild everything, put in the direction of the market a group which gradually lost since the bronze at the Worlds of 2002. Laurent Tillie will succeed in three years to give a soul to the Tricolores, and the transcended Blues will even succeed in 2015 on a cloud: European champions and winners of the World League.

→ READ The French handball team achieves a historic Olympic treble

A standing finally regained, but undoubtedly they saw themselves too beautiful these Blues inflated at the time of approaching Rio. The disappointment of a 9th place finish and a missed tournament was to weigh on their shoulders, and their results became a roller coaster. It was necessary to grow a little more, to solidify this common base. The four years since Rio have served this purpose: to unite, to further cement the friendships between the thirty-something Earvin Ngapeth or Jenia Grebennikov and the twenty-something Jean Patry or Barthélémy Chinenyeze.

A great reward for coach Laurent Tillie

Today they know each other by heart, and undoubtedly on the field are they the only ones to understand what they play. Their Olympic tournament is once again a great mystery, with a failed start, a rebound in the group stage with their backs to the wall, already against the Russians beaten for the first time (3 sets to 1), an exceptional quarter-final against the Poles at the end of an insane match (3 sets to 2), and a final started on the hats of wheels (2 sets 0), before a slack and an unexpected flashback in extremis.

For Laurent Tillie, it is the ultimate reward after a long quest, he who had decided to finish whatever happens his mission at the head of the Blues in Tokyo. “I have been running after these dreams for forty years, he blurted out before the final. It’s a great story, because it’s a little improbable to dream of playing an Olympic final at the end of the cycle ”.

Winning the title is an even more breathtaking finale. French volleyball, which has always assumed the role of the ugly duckling of French collective sport, without a shadow of a medal on its record, can now raise its head. Olympic Champions: These crazy people deserve it.

→ READ ALSO At the Tokyo Olympics, France shines as a collective


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