This is not really the entry point they had dreamed of.
Dryly beaten by the United States (17-10), the players of the French 3x3 basketball team have all returned to the locker room with a small smile on their lips and a light heart, Thursday night in Tokyo.
Disappointing from a sporting point of view, the baptism of Olympic fire of Ana Filip and her gang ended with a moment of rare freshness alongside a distinguished spectator: the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron.
Informed the day before of the possible presence of the head of state, the tricolor basketball players did not expect, however, the long improvised exchange at the end of the meeting. "This is the first time that I speak with a President of the Republic so I can not compare with what is usually done, laughed Marie-Eve Paget in reference to the long minutes granted to them by the President. . But it's really cool that he took the time to congratulate and cheer us on. We really liked it because I think his timing was super tight. "
Arrived in Japan on Friday evening to attend the opening ceremony and promote the Paris 2024 Games, the head of state, after a hook by the judo competition, completed his Japanese escapade with a stop at the Aomi Park to witness the shock between the French women's team and that of the United States, supported on the spot by Jill Biden, the first lady in person.
"He was very relaxed"
Attentive and rather stoic during the meeting, Emmanuel Macron, on the other hand, was much more expansive when welcoming the Habs.
In a white shirt, it was without a mask and very smiling, that, leaning on the platform, he chatted for long minutes with the quartet of French women.
“I told them that it was a pre-final, that they would play the same match (note: against the Americans) in the final but that this one, they would win, revealed Emmanuel Macron.
I'm very impressed.
I told the president (editor's note: of the French basketball federation, Jean-Pierre Siutat) that I had never seen a 3x3 match.
I found it great and physically very impressive because there is no respite.
They were obviously a little frustrated.
But it was the first game, the only one they had the right to lose.
But we are fully behind them.
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A speech that obviously hit the mark with Ana-Filip and its partners.
“He was very relaxed,” explains the captain of the Bleues, noting that sport is no doubt more an invitation to banter than politics.
It was really nice to talk to him, he was very open, very outgoing.
It lifts your spirits to feel supported by such a personality.
Forced to leave Japan quickly at the end of his passage through Aomi Park, the president will therefore not have seen a tricolor win a medal.
"But that will not prevent me from supporting all the teams in France and from continuing to be fully behind all our athletes," he promised before leaving the scene.