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Cléopâtre Darleux: "This Mondial, we approach it as the beginning of a new story"


The goalkeeper of the French handball team evokes the complicated chain between the Olympic title four months ago and the World Championship from Friday, against Angola to start (18:00).

Cleopatra, does the fact that you are Olympic champions change the way you approach this World Championship?

Cleopatra Darleux:

I think that is changing anyway. We won everything we wanted to win. Suddenly, now, in our heads, there is still a slightly longer-term objective which is the Paris Games in 2024. Except that to hope to be titled on this occasion, we must proceed step by step. And this World Championship, we approach it as the beginning of a new story, with a new team, between those who have stopped and those who have joined the group. We must all build together and the ideal for that is victories and good results. Even if, I admit, it is not easy to follow up so quickly on such a deadline after Tokyo. But we know that we have a competitive team, which has been building on its excellent results for 4-5 years.

You are always so hungry for titles…

This success is inevitably a source of motivation, especially for me because I know that I will not be playing for ten years yet.

It is really important to me to make profitable what could be my last three years in the France team.

When you say that it is difficult to chain so quickly, do you envy a Clarisse Agbegnenou or a Teddy Riner who may have taken a break for a few months?

Oh yeah ! (laughs) In addition, I follow them a bit and when I saw that they could cut, it is certain that it is a huge chance. They had time to recharge their batteries, to recharge their batteries, which is not at all our case. We had what, a week and a half maximum after the Games before switching to the resumption with the club. And in this context, we must turn the page of the Games quickly because our partners who did not take part do not necessarily want to hear about it every four morning. That's also why it's good to come back to the France team, where we can talk about it again between girls who have experienced the same thing, who have felt the same. But it's true that a little more vacation would have been good.

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The volleyball players were also Olympic champions in Tokyo and behind, they missed their Euro. Do you have any lessons to learn from their failure and their difficulties to follow suit?

Yes totally. I think that for them it was too much, and worse than us because their Euro arrived barely a month after the Games. I think that the minimum union would be to have three weeks of vacation after a big competition. If I am not mistaken, this is what is done in football, for example. After the Euro, the Blues have resumed staggered with their clubs. The problem for us is, if you pick up and you're not good, it's like you're not there. It would be nice to learn from all of this but alas, I don't believe that is in the plans of our leaders.

You mentioned the departure of some old ones. Does this create a fear of heights?

I think yes. Even if it was done little by little with the injury of Siraba (Dembélé) before the Games, which did not allow him to be there. Then, Alexandra (Lacrabère) was also injured during the Games and missed the end. Then it was Amandine who stopped. Now to be honest on the pitch I think we still have huge potential. The worry is more outside. Personally, these girls have always been there when I was in the France team. They were real pillars, solid supports, we formed like a family with its little habits and there, I no longer have that. From my beginnings in the France team, there is only Allison (Pineau), which makes me weird. But we must accept these changes which are part of theorder of things and be open to news. Simply, as everything went very well before, change necessarily generates fear.

Another fear, that of the start of the competition, that the France team has taken a bad habit of missing…

Yes, it's true.

Considering the draw, it would be better to avoid any ignition delay in Spain…

It's clear.

We have a very difficult first hen, and the rest promises to be tough too.

So of course it would be better if we started well so as not to burn a wild card too quickly and put more pressure on ourselves.

We know it.

In the second half of the Games, we had changed a bit of preparation and I think we will follow this example in this World Championship.

I hope that will be enough (smile).

The good thing is that this first round scares us and when we are scared, in general, we are even better.

Cleopatra Darleux

How do you see your first three opponents (Angola, Montenegro and Slovenia)?

Angola puts a lot of physical commitment, a bit like Montenegro in fact.

Maybe the Montenegrins put a little more heart and determination into it.

These first two matches will be very intense and to win, we will have to manage to move the game throughout the field.

Slovenia often gave us big problems at the start of the competition.

In a match, especially at the start of the competition, the Slovenians know they can beat us.

They have Ana Gros who is an exceptional player.

Now the good thing is that this first round scares us and when we are scared usually we are even better.

Do you feel that you have a result pressure on this World Championship?

A little. In fact, yes and no since we are changing teams, which gives us the right to make mistakes. But our team remains hypercompetitive and in my eyes, reaching the last four remains a legitimate objective. It is important to maintain our momentum between now and the Games in Paris, which will only be two and a half years away. As I said at the start, it is important to build on victories.

With regard to the news too, they should not arrive and the France team defeat.

For their confidence, it could be complicated…

Yes, for sure.

For experienced players too, there is this notion of transmission to succeed and that requires a good result.

We will have to be mentally ready for this World Championship to respond collectively.

Source: lefigaro

All sports articles on 2021-12-02

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