The Olympic count has started.
The Tokyo Games, postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic, will open in 100 days.
Despite a largely disrupted preparation, French athletes, most of whom already have their tickets in their pockets, are projecting themselves.
Despite everything, the Olympic celebration may be less joyous than usual.
What if it was the Blue Olympics?
At the Rio Olympics, the French won three individual gold medals.
And they have the means to do at least as well during their stay in Japan.
Already titled in Rio, Charline Picon, 36, will try to become the first windsurfer to keep her crown in the RSX category, which will be the last presence on the Olympic program.
The Habs have just conquered their fifth European laurels in March and seem almost untouchable.
“I like this leadership position,” she says.
It obviously gives me confidence for the Games.
Tic tac tic tac ⏱ D-100
RDV April 14 #ENROUTEPOURTOKYO
• @ Paris2024 @FranceOlympique @FRAparalympique #RoadToTokyo pic.twitter.com/1L93fTn3OB
- AGBÉGNÉNOU Clarisse (@ Gnougnou25) April 12, 2021
Two other blue-white-red athletes would see themselves changing the color of their Brazilian metal.
To brown their money a little ... Beaten in the final of the less than 63 kg four and a half years ago, the judokate Clarisse Agbegnenou, 28, does not want to let her chance pass.
The queen of the tatami mats set sail for Reunion on Sunday to prepare and regenerate for a fortnight and will make a small detour to Budapest at the beginning of June on the road to Japan.
In Hungary, she will set off to attack a fifth world coronation.
Judo, personal commitment, social networks ... Clarisse Agbegnenou, the sportswoman who dares everything
Another moderately happy South American silver, 32-year-old Elodie Clouvel is aiming for the top step in the pentathlon.
The current world n ° 1 is not yet qualified but she has a few opportunities, starting with a World Cup round in Sofia (Bulgaria) at the end of the week.
To this trio already established at the rendezvous of the rings, is added a little news.
And for good reason.
His discipline will make its entry into the Games this summer.
Julia Chanourdie, 24, aims to become the first Olympic climbing champion in history.
Finally, after almost three years of struggles due to iliac endofibrosis, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, 29, returned to the top of mountain biking in 2020. “The Olympics are a dream and a goal,” sums up the Rémoise.
A postponement to 2021 beneficial?
We will never know what the record of the Blues would have been if the Games had taken place as planned in 2020. However, it is clear that some took advantage of the postponement to come back to the fore, starting with Teddy Riner, the star of the French sport.
After his defeat (the first in 10 years) at the Paris tournament in February 2020, the concerns were legitimate.
A year later, Riner isn't the same man anymore.
He lost 26 kg and regained his enthusiasm.
What to hope for a third gold medal this summer.
In the spring of 2020, Kevin Mayer, weakened by an injury during the Doha Worlds in September, was chasing the Olympic minimums.
Since then, he has set the record straight and calmly prepares for the Japanese deadline.
The same goes for Renaud Lavillenie.
A few months ago, we no longer necessarily bet on the one who nevertheless appears regularly on the international podiums.
Here again, the containment of March 2020 was profitable.
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The pole vaulter, who has often been seen jumping in his garden, treated his injuries and attacked the winter at heights (6.02 m then 6.06 m) where he had not been seen since 2016. So even if the Swedish Armand Duplantis continues his insolent domination, the Clermontois can, as Philippe D'Encausse points out, "clearly aim for gold".
Back to swimming in March 2019 after a two and a half year handball break, Florent Manaudou, who will play in the next Asterix and Obelix, has also taken this additional year of preparation on the safe side.
Happy in his life and in the water.
Even if the French sprinter had to review his initial plans because of the health situation and leave his Turkish base in Antalya and James Gibson, the coach of his coronation in 2012, to stay in Marseille.
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A post shared by Florent Manaudou 🦍 (@florentmanaudou)
Who to carry the flag?
As in 2016, it is athletes who will elect the flag bearers at the end of June.
And no longer the standard bearer.
In a desire for parity, the International Olympic Committee leaves delegations the possibility of designating a man and a woman.
France made this choice.
Each Olympic Federation has thus appointed two ambassadors.
It is they who will vote, they too will decide whether or not to declare themselves a candidate.
Thus Michaël Guigou, appointed by the Handball Federation, does not wish to apply.
Before having to forfeit due to a serious injury to the Achilles tendon which occurred last Sunday, his girls' counterpart Siraba Dembélé had taken the same option, unlike the two representatives of athletics, Renaud Lavillenie and Mélina Robert-Michon.
RDV April 14 #enroutepourtokyo @ Paris2024 @FranceOlympique @FRAparalympique pic.twitter.com/OBJmvpwjAi
- Renaud LAVILLENIE (@airlavillenie) April 12, 2021
Olympic champion in London, Renaud Lavillenie is a favorite with another gold medalist of the 2012 Olympics, Florent Manaudou, who never hid that it was "a dream" and asked the FFN to present it.
Ambassador of judo, Teddy Riner could have claimed to be "captain" of the Blues as in 2016 in Rio.
He chose to pass the torch, which the gymnast Samir Aït Saïd, seriously injured in Rio, would be well taken back.
In women, it's open with several potential candidates.
Charline Picon (sailing) is the only Olympic champion to have been appointed ambassador… Clarisse Agbegnenou and Mélina Robert-Michon have displayed their ambitions.
They are not champions but vice-Olympic champions and have other assets to promote, such as societal commitment for judokate or longevity for the discobolus who participates in her sixth Games.
Also a silver medalist in Rio, the pentathlete Elodie Clouvel can also claim to lead the tricolor delegation in Tokyo.
Who will be the stars of the Games?
Viewers around the world will certainly have their eyes on them.
Starting with Simone Biles.
After having seduced by her incredible grace, the American, 24 years old, moved by her personal story against the backdrop of sexual violence in the United States team.
Biles became last year the most medal-winning gymnast in history at the world level (men and women alike), with 25 awards, including 19 in gold.
Already weighted down with four Olympic titles, she will tackle the old record of the Russian Latynina (9).
There will be six gold medals awarded in Tokyo ...
A melodic Tuesday afternoon with the incredible American gymnast, @Simone_Biles!
🎶🤸♀️🇺🇸pic.twitter.com / d9PLX13Exs
- Olympic Games (@Olympic Games) April 6, 2021
Caeleb Dressel, also 24, wants to dive into the Phelps myth.
The American swimmer remains on seven titles at the 2017 Worlds and eight medals including six titles in 2019!
Armand "Mondo" Duplantis, 21, wants him to continue to touch the stars.
And why not exceed his own world record for outdoor pole vault (6.15 m).
Those nostalgic for the Dream Team 1992 will closely follow the American basketball team, which should be able to count on the biggest stars of the NBA.
Even if it is not the most representative sport, tennis will be one of the highlights of the fortnight.
For two reasons.
Roger Federer, 40 years old on August 8, is still chasing individual gold and Naomi Osaka, 23, could give Japan a nice gift ...