Un been on a steep slope for French sport. After the fiasco of athletics at the World Championships in Budapest (from August 19 to 27), the tricolor basketball could not avoid Berezina during the World Cup in Jakarta. If this failure of the reigning Olympic vice-champions may be on the wrong track on a trajectory supposed to lead them to the Olympic final in the summer of 2024 in Paris, the bankruptcy of the French athletes is structural. The silver medal obtained in extremis by the 4 × 400 relay certainly saved me from a zero point, which would have had the worst effect a year from the Games. However, it does not mask the extent of the desert in which French athletics has found itself since the miracle – or mirage – of Rio 2016 and its six medals.
“Generation hole” for some, lack of attraction for the discipline among young people according to others… the reasons are multiple, but one observation is clear: France is a dwarf in athletics, the king sport of the Games which has become increasingly globalized . To say that is not to insult Alice Finot (5e steeplechase), Jimmy Gressier and Yann Schrub (9are over 5,000m and 10,000m) or even Thibaut Collet (5e pole vault), who, without getting on the podium, were able to transcend themselves on the banks of the Danube.
The memories of the 2003 Worlds in Saint-Denis, the golden age of the French peaks (eight medals including three titles), are not enough to convince oneself that the effect of home games will inflate the results in a year. Amélie Oudéa-Castéra was quick to summon the management of French athletics at the Ministry of Sports. No drastic action was taken during this meeting ” tonic “ to reverse the slow but inexorable downgrading of France.
Athletics is not the only bad student this summer. Fencing, usually first in class, won six medals at the World Championships in Milan in July, two fewer than in Cairo a year earlier – but above all only one gold, compared to four a year ago. . The French track cycling team was unable to win any title at the Worlds in Glasgow at the beginning of August, even though it had played the leading roles at home at the end of 2022, with three gold medals. And what about para-athletics, author of a sad record (four bronze medals) at the world championships, in Paris at the beginning of July…
Certainly, the picture must be nuanced with the historic hat-trick of the Blues at the BMX Worlds or the gold of Pauline Ferrand-Prévôt and the silver of Loana Lecomte in mountain biking. And then doesn’t France reign over team sports? Yes, but sporting excellence is not transmitted; it will be difficult for the tricolor delegation to repeat the harvest of Olympic titles (ten) achieved in Tokyo two years ago.
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