Of course, there are team sports. The great French animators of the last weekend of the Tokyo Games chased the medals with a shovel, five in the end and three of the most precious, hip hip hip hooray!
Thank you handball, the boys in found patterns and the girls, gold around the neck, the last piece of jewelry missing from their list. Thank you also basketball, men’s silver and ladies’ bronze. Thank you especially volleyball, for the happiness of the novelty at the top.
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“It’s important to have team dynamics three years from the next Games”, welcomes the boss of Paris 2024, Tony Estanguet. Certainly. But the excellence of this group work masks the shortcomings that have been observed elsewhere.
9 medals less than in Rio
Because on the medal table, the count is not so good, with the bar of 30 just exceeded (33), when it was a question of being rather in the waters of Rio, 42 charms on call. Difficult to evoke a beautiful tricolor momentum to best launch Paris 2024.
Comes back to the comparison with our English neighbors and their launching of the London 2012 games from Beijing 2008. Great Britain went from tenth place in the ranking of nations in Athens in 2004 to fourth in China, loading its bag with 30 to 51 medals (including 19 gold). This fine progression was confirmed at home in 2012: 65 medals (29 gold) and a climb on the podium of nations (3e). My God!
The example makes the eyes of French leaders shine. In 2017, the “Performance 2024” report of the General Inspectorate for Youth and Sports applauded the “Pragmatism” English and advocated, among other things, “Professional athletes” and “A strategic alliance with the private sector”.
The example of Great Britain
The reference to Great Britain was still present in October 2020 when the National Sports Agency (ANS), a new structure led by the former playing master of French handball players, Claude Onesta, presented his “Blue Ambition” for 2024. He evoked a “High performance circle”, wanting to identify around 400 athletes to push for 2024 out of the 2,700 supported every month by the organization.
We will have to tackle the task as the dynamics seem, for the time being, far from the canons of English beauty. “There are 300 medals distributed on swimming and athletics, noted Claude Onesta in the fall. If you are weak in these sports, you will easily degrade your ranking ”. Indeed. In Tokyo, the two flagship sports of the Olympics each brought France … a single medal. Skinny.
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Athletics is already promising a new reorganization around Florian Rousseau, the former cycling champion appointed director of high performance in January 2020. Other federations also promise to shake things up, such as boxing, which went from “solid team” in 2016 ( 6 medals, including two gold) to “Team friable” in 2021 (zero points).
“There are sports where you have to react strongly”, emphasizes Tony Estanguet, who also points to cycling, a long time a major supplier to the Blues. The English had made it a target and since 2008, it has provided them with a good harvest (14 medals in Beijing, 12 in London and Rio).
France still relies on diversity
Concentrate resources on sports that distribute a lot of medals? “It’s not really French culture, notes Yohan Penel, President of the French Badminton Federation. Our identity is to promote diversity, not to completely set aside certain sports ”. Great Britain, again, has made the choice to almost draw a line on team sports. Unthinkable on this side of the Channel.
Can we, in any case, turn everything upside down three years from the deadline? “We are certainly going to recruit a performance director and a supervisor for the French teams to bring a new perspective to our methods and take some of our champions to a new level., continues Yohan Penel. But the athletes for 2024 will not come out of nowhere and are already identified “.
Claude Onesta did not say anything else before Tokyo by confiding in the daily The world that the three years remaining before the Paris Games are a very short timeframe: “The cycle of Paris 2024 will be that of continuity, because it is almost too late today to launch major projects”. Everything, no doubt, is in the ” almost “.