“The French are not going to start winning overnight”. The words of Renaud Lavillenie on a daily basis The world resonate all the more as French athletics comes out of its worst world with only one medal, Kevin Mayer’s gold in decathlon. Two years from the Paris 2024 Olympics, the French pole vaulter does not believe in a great last minute preparation.
An opinion that the athletic federation does not seem to share since that is exactly what it intends to do. “We are going to set up in the coming months a performance optimization unit, surrounded by a researcher. If it helps the athletes for a hundredth or a centimeter it can make the difference, ”launched Romain Barras, performance director at the FFA, at the end of the Eugene Worlds. The whole being supervised by Bertrand Valcin, technical manager and former trainer of… Kevin Mayer.
While waiting for the decathlete’s former coach to miraculously produce potential Olympic champions for us and on the occasion of the penultimate anniversary preceding Paris 2024, 20 Minutes on the good students, more or less young, more or less known, who , all sports combined, should scratch a medal or two without having to go through last-minute remedial lessons.
Swimming: Léon Marchand, the evidence
He would have been on our list no matter what, and to tell the truth, his incredible breakthrough at the swimming worlds (three medals, including two gold) would almost annoy us. Because of her, we can’t say that we knew before you that he would torture the competition on his favorite distances and in the relay. Leon took care of that for us. But that doesn’t change anything: he is young (20 years old), he holds up to the pressure of major events, in short, he is what the leaders of French sport would have liked to produce in drums during the previous Olympics.
Goal of medals : Let’s be nice and not too ambitious either. We will content ourselves with the same three medals as at the world championships.
Swimming: Maxime Grousset, the other good surprise
In the perfect unknown category, we will not mention Maxime Grousset either. 4th in the 100m freestyle in Tokyo, the French swimmer returned from the Budapest Worlds with silver in the 50m freestyle and bronze in the 100m. Certainly, we can always find fault with it, underline the absence of the Russians, of certain favourites, of this, of that. But Grousset’s progress is real, and should lead the young man (23) to the Olympic podiums within two years.
Objective of medals: As for Marchand, we will use the same menu as at the Worlds. Two medals doesn’t sound too bad.
110m hurdles: Sasha Zhoya in search of blossoming
“Patience is not my strong point. It sounds obvious from the mouth of a 19-year-old boy whose job is to run faster than the others. But this year, Sasha Zoya had to take it upon herself. First, he waited for the French championships to set a benchmark time (13”17). Then, he had to learn with the big boys at the Eugène Worlds, where he went “without pressure”. And tripping over the rug. Finally in the hurdles, we understand each other. In the United States, Zhoya did not reach the final, but is satisfied to have gained experience. It’s good. But time is running out now. In two years, more than mature, it will have to be successful. A challenge worthy of his impatience.
Objective of medals: one and any, French athletics is not in a position to be choosy.
Breakdance: Martin Lejeune, in rhythm for 2024
Like Steven Da Costa in Tokyo, he will have no room for error in Paris. Just like karate last year, its discipline, breakdancing, will be tested at the 2024 Olympics and there is still no guarantee that it will be returned to Los Angeles in 2028. But the aptly named Lejeune – he will be 21 in two years – is already one of the great promises of his discipline, as evidenced by his silver medal at the Buenos Aires YOG in 2018. A feat of arms around which the discipline is now built on French territory on the fringes of the 2024 goal.
Objective of medals: We want the gold and nothing else, Martin. At a pinch the money, if we consider that we are not always lucky in the disciplines where a jury decides our fate.
Gymnastics: Melanie de Jesus dos Santos
Far from being an unknown, the French gymnast is one of those who will be expected a lot in Paris. She has the advantage of having discovered the Olympic Games in Tokyo, in 2021. These have allowed her to gain experience and make her face reality, that of a very high ruthless level. Off the podium in the all-around, team and uneven bars, Mélanie Jesus dos Santos has decided to pursue her career in the United States alongside Simone Biles, whose coaches are French.
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“My project is the 2024 Olympic preparation,” she said before the big start. We expected no less.
Objective of medals: One or two seems within reach of an athlete of her talent.