The track and field events start on Friday. Of the 66 French athletes entered, some have a good chance of winning a medal.
And if the French athletics remake the coup of Rio? In 2016, the Tricolores had gone to seek six medals, that is to say the best French record since the Olympic Games of 1948. From Friday, July 30, the French will try to get new charms for the blue delegation, starting with Djilali Bedrani. The 3,000 m steeplechase specialist is the first Frenchman to dive into competition on Friday and, like him, other Habs dream of an Olympic podium.
Alone, Kevin Mayer carries the weight of a whole delegation on his shoulders. The decathlete, holder of the world record in the discipline since 2018, is the best French chance to win a medal in Tokyo in athletics. In 2016, in Rio, Kevin Mayer went to get the money. This time, the Montpellier player is aiming for gold despite competition from Canadian Damian Warner, author of the best performance of the year (8995 points, fourth best total in history).
If he remains on two failures at Euro 2018 and the 2019 Worlds, Mayer remains confident when approaching his two days of competition, August 4 and 5. “The last few weeks have been really hard, the stress was starting to kick in. But the form is on the rise and I’m starting to enjoy my stress. I know I can handle it, I know I have the legs. I do what I do. you need training to be ready on D-Day, “he said recently in an interview.
Like his fellow decathlete, Renaud Lavillenie also has great chances of a medal in the pole vault. It remains to be seen in what state his left ankle is, after his sprain suffered on July 11. “For my ankle, I have ups and downs, it’s complicated on the whole. I always feel that it is sensitive, I continue the care, I do not despair”, explained Lavillenie Wednesday.
Behind Armand “Mondo” Duplantis, ultra-favorite for the gold medal, the places for silver and bronze are open, especially as the double world champion Sam Kendricks had to forfeit due to a test positive for Covid-19.
Renaud Lavillenie, second best performer of the year, can therefore aim for the money. And a surprise is not to be ruled out for Valentin Lavillenie and Ethan Cormont, who both jumped 5.80 m this year. And like the French pole vaulters, other Tricolores can believe in their lucky star.
Renaud Lavillenie at the Stockholm meeting, July 4 (THOMAS WINDESTAM / DIAMOND LEAGUE AG)
The first Frenchman to follow on Friday will therefore be Djilali Bedrani, entered over 3,000 m steeplechase. For his first Olympic Games, the Toulousain wants to imitate Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad, triple Olympic medalist over the distance. Sixth best performer of the year, Djilali Bedrani can believe it, but he will have to surpass himself and get his personal best (8’5 “23), established in October 2019.
The hammer throw will also be a close watch, with Alexandra Tavernier and Quentin Bigot. The two will play their second Olympics and hope to get a podium after having achieved good performances this year. Alexandra Tavernier broke the French record last February, with a throw of 75.38m, while Quentin Bigot broke her personal best in early June, throwing the hammer to 79.70m.
Alexandra Tavernier during the French Elite Championships, June 27 in Angers (HERVIO JEAN-MARIE / KMSP / AFP)
A good dynamic that Mélina Robert-Michon will have to find again. The discus thrower had the ninth best performance of the year, far behind the big favorites for gold. For her sixth participation in the Olympics (she is the only athlete to have participated in all the editions of the 21st century), Mélina Robert-Michon (42) can still consider a podium after winning silver in Rio, in 2016. .
At 43, Yohann Diniz wants to forget his failures at the Olympics for good. Abandonment in 2008 in Beijing, disqualification in 2012 in London, 8th place in 2016 in Rio after a nightmarish race … Yohann Diniz has trouble with the Olympics. But the Frenchman remains a benchmark in the 50 km walk and on August 5, he will still be able to believe in his chances of a medal.
Wilhem Belocian also wants to forget his painful experience at the Olympics. In 2016, the 110m hurdles specialist was disqualified after a false start during the series. “I spent two good years of struggle afterwards. The trauma was still present. It even penalized me a little on my departures. I had to do a lot of work in relation to that”, he explained there some months. Since then, the sprinter has regained his best level and could embarrass the Americans and Jamaicans.
For her part, Rénelle Lamote is in good shape: the 800m specialist broke her personal best in Monaco on July 9 (1’57 “98). With the twelfth best performance of the year over the distance, the Frenchwoman hopes take advantage of this good momentum to eventually clinch a place on the podium, which at first glance seems complicated. After Bedrani, Lamote will be one of the first French women to enter the Olympic Games, with the 800m series starting at night next (3:25 French time).
Rénelle Lamote after the 800m during the Elite Championships in Angers, June 27 (HERVIO JEAN-MARIE / KMSP / AFP)
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