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2021 Olympic Games - Athletics: "The record is bad, even very bad", estimates Stéphane Diagana

2021 Olympic Games – Athletics: “The record is bad, even very bad”, estimates Stéphane Diagana

Money didn’t make them happy. Ripped off by courage, Kevin Mayer’s beautiful decathlon medal is indeed the only ray of sunshine for French athletics in Tokyo. In the Japanese capital, the Blues did not weigh much on the track of the Olympic stadium. At the end of the day, it is even the worst tricolor record since scoring zero at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Three years of welcoming athletes from around the world to the 2024 Paris Games, this record inevitably raises questions. France Télévisions consultant Stéphane Diagana takes stock of these disappointing results.

The results of the Blues: “It is a failure to put in perspective but to take seriously”

“The record is bad, even very bad, we cannot say anything more. Before the Games I said that a good record would be three medals, given our team, four medals would have been very good. A reasonable goal, not too ambitious.” not too pessimistic. We had half a dozen chances for medals, but we know that in a big competition, all chances don’t materialize. Between these occasions, Renaud Lavillenie and Kevin Mayer were in the Reality we expected them. Kevin still got the money, and Renaud was sadly injured.

Then we could wait for Yohan Diniz, even if he hadn’t walked for a long time in a random discipline (the 50km walk). On the pitches side, Alexandre Tavernier, Mélina Robert-Michon, and Quentin Bigot could also bring one or two. The rest would have been good surprises, but we had none, unlike Rio in 2016 where he was successful with several medals such as Dimitri Bascou (110m hurdles), Christophe Lemaître (200m) for a thousandth or Mahiedine Mekhissi (3000m hurdles race). obstacles) after disqualification. That doesn’t mean it’s luck, but sometimes it takes a combination of factors to bring athletes together.

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"I'm a little disappointed, I came for a medal" Quentin Bigot reacted after his fifth place in the hammer throw final.

In Rio we had it. Result: we obtained 6 medals in 2016, which did not reflect the true value of the French team. But a medal in Tokyo doesn’t reflect that either. The true value of the Blues has been between 3 and 4 medals for years. It is a failure to put in perspective but to be taken seriously. We should not be alarmist but there is a reality: we have athletes who have brought many medals in recent years such as Lemaître, Mekhissi, Diniz, Lavillenie, who will pass the baton. However, we do not have a succession that matches those who are leaving today. “

What prospects for 2024? “We have talented young people”

“It’s a problem. Even if we have good reason to be happy about the season, looking at the youngsters, there is still a hole looming until 2022. We have talented youngsters like Ethan Cormon and Margot Chevrier in the pole vault. From here on Paris, they will be able to claim the podium, maybe. In hurdles, we have Sasha Zhoya who will be 22 years old in Paris, it is not impossible although it may be a bit tight. In 100m, we will be able to follow Jeff Erius, but all these young people , we should not push them too hard.

We can count on them if they are well accompanied, surrounded. But we shouldn’t wait too long either because it will happen in early 2024. The real problem is that we lack a generation of athletes who would be between 27 and 30 years old in Paris and who would be at the highest level. For Djilali Bedrani (3000 m obstacle course) he is not lost, Rénelle Lamote (800 m) has advanced a bit, she will be old enough, but she will have to pass a course “.

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French Rénelle Lamotte will not go to the final.  Fifth in her semifinal at 1.59.40 she was eliminated.  A race dominated by American Athing Mu on 1.58.07.

What to change from here to the Olympic Games in Paris? “We should narrow down the selection”

“We can always turn things around, probably in support, in preparing the athletes before the deadline. We must support them better than what we did there for Tokyo. So, I think we should adjust the selection. From what I observed, I think It was too broad (63 athletes). It is important to take this into account. The objective is not to prevent people from going to the Games, but to have a hard core of athletes committed to a logic of very high performance.

There, we end up with relays, for example, where some torchbearers are not qualified as individuals. If we raised the conditions of the invitation, it would make everyone go up, it would do the athletes a favor by pushing them to go even faster. This is just one example, but we need to recreate a high-performance culture. In athletics, detection does not really exist, in the sense that it is not structured, organized in the territory with batteries of tests by the federation. It is done through a fairly selective competitive system from the start. If in juniors you have not managed to break through, since you have to lead your studies head on, you deviate from the path to the higher level.

Some, if they could continue to train well, could reach physical maturity in their 20s, 21s. This is a real problem that worries other federations: we lose 30% among cadets and youth, and youth with hope. The tank for the high level is quite narrow. The structure of the competitions makes it quite strongly exclude the junior cadet age. It is systemic and the athlete in sulfur a lot. We lose talent along the way. I had a late maturity, I came back late to Insep, I was ready to be a profile that goes by the wayside ”.

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