Friday 22 July-Sunday August 8. Here we are. The Tokyo Games, so badly embarked, postponed for a year, surrounded by doubts about the very possibility of being able to be organized, considered by a large part of Japanese public opinion as a potential incubator of a pandemic rebound , ended this Sunday. Performances, highlights: what marked us during these Olympics.
The “Survivors” offer French volleyball its first Olympic title on Saturday at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo. (YURI CORTEZ / AFP)
The apotheosis of sports co Suddenly, everything accelerated. The five teams from France engaged in traditional team sports have extracted themselves from the group stages. By a mouse hole for the volleyball players, who had never reached the quarter-finals of an Olympic tournament. Handball players, basketball players, volleyball players: all found themselves in the last four, suggesting an improbable Grand Slam. The basketball players gave in in the semifinals, swept away by cheeky Japanese three-pointers. The other four took their tickets to the final.
The alarm clock rang early on Saturday. It was 4 a.m. 27 in France when basketball players launched an assault on Team USA. Like in Sydney in 1996 , the Blues stumbled on the American mountain and its summit peak, Kevin Durant, masterful. Without demerit and with an appetite for Paris, in three years. “We knew that we had a mountain in front of us”, expires Nando From Colo. In the end, “it’s all about details”. Details that make five points and turn silver into gold .
Basketball players Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier after the defeat in the final against the USA on Saturday at the Saitama Super Arena. (Mohd Rasfan / AFP)
A shower and a coffee later and the basketball players in turn enter the floor of the Saitama Super Arena. Forgotten the disappointment of the day before against the host nation, from the start of the match, it is clear that they have no desire to relive their end of the tournament in Rio five years ago, when they had failed at the foot the podium, already beaten by the Serbs, or the recent European Championships, where they had been beaten in the final, always by the same opponents. Victoire 91 – 67, bronze medal around the neck. “It was a summer super long and we really wanted to finish it in the best possible way. It’s true that we failed yesterday, but today we really, but really, really wanted to not lose ”, declares the captain afterwards. des Bleues, Endy Miyem.
An air of revenge on Saturday on the floor of the Saitama Super Arena where the French basketball players won the bronze medal against the Serbs, who had relegated them to the foot of the Olympic podium in Rio. (THOMAS COEX / AFP)
In the early afternoon, panic wins. Handball and volleyball players play simultaneously on the floor of the Yoyogi Stadium and at the Ariake Arena. TO 14 h 26 French time, French handball players arrive at the top of Olympus. TO 15 h 43, the volleyball players join them. For the former, it looks like a habit (Olympic champions in 2000 and in 2012, silver medalists in 2016) which must be measured that this regularity means. The seconds write them a page of history, a history of survivors also at the end of a tournament well badly embarked, a final in blue and roller coaster and an adventure that could have ended before even starting. “It’s a beautiful fairy tale” , summarizes on France Télévisions Laurent Tillie, who coached his last match on Saturday after a nine-year term at the head of the French selection.
French handball players on the first step of the podium on Saturday at the Yoyogi National Stadium in Tokyo. (FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP)
Sunday, last day of the Games, last gold medal: the “Battantes” of handball offer themselves Russia and the title, the only one missing from their list . Defense was once again the key to this victory, with the spectacular entry of Cléopâtre Darleux in the cages in the second half. “We said we were going to close the shop, and we closed it I think that this final, people lived it quite calmly, it changes from usual ”, summarizes Allison Pineau.
This Sunday, French handball players won the 10 e and last gold medal of the French delegation, the 31 e in total, all metals included. (Franck Fife / AFP)
By adding the money of the girls of rugby sevens and the place in the semi-finals of the 3×3 basketball players, directly transplanted from basketball from the street to the Olympic world, we paint a portrait of a dazzling success in French collective sport. Only footballers, who returned to the Games for the first time since 1996, se are missed, taken out from the group stage. The coach, Sylvain Ripoll, had a hard time putting together his list, victim of the refusal of professional clubs to release players for an event which is not sanctioned by FIFA.
When the pressure involves the athlete mental health The image marked, the soap opera lasted. The 27 July, Simone Biles retires in the middle of the all-around team competition. The multi-medal gymnast is one of the stars of these Games. But she can’t take it anymore. “Loss of figure” , that is to say difficulty in find one’s way in space. The one who was the victim, like others, of the sexual abuse of Larry Nassar , doctor of the American gymnastics team, was the spokesperson for gymnasts abused by the predator. In Tokyo, overtaken by her inner demons , she releases another word, that of athletes subjected to terrible pressures, to an obligation of results which eats up energy and obsesses, to the point of endangering their mental or physical health. On August 3, she is back in full light. At the beam. His bronze medal may be worth gold. “We are human, we are not just attractions”, she said , as evidence always worth remembering.
She is back. On August 3, Simone Biles, American superstar in gymnastics, takes the bronze medal on the beam. (Lionel Bonaventure / AFP)
Is this the effect of pandemic, the upheaval of their calendars: other leading athletes have displayed their mental difficulties. Tenniswoman Naomi Osaka, who lit the Olympic cauldron on 22 July, had started from the Roland-Garros tournament. In Tokyo, she disappeared from the round of 16 . Novak Djokovic cracked him . He who was already seen equaling Steffi Graf by completing a golden Grand Slam (the four majors + Olympic gold) finished chocolate in the individual tournament and did not even play his last mixed doubles match. And the Serbian world number one to evoke his “exhaustion, mental and physical”.
The Blues in the Games The medal table will no longer move. The French delegation appears in 8th place in a ranking dominated by the United States and China. With ten gold medals and 31 in total, the Blues are doing less well than in Rio in 2016 (41 medals including ten in gold, 7th on the board) or London in 2012 (22 medals, eleven of which are in gold, 7th). And, depending on whether we only retain the most precious metal or an overview, roughly in the waters of Beijing 2000 (41 medals including seven in gold only, 06 e). Before the Games, Claude Onesta, in charge of high performance at the National Sports Agency, relied on a harvest “roughly equivalent” at the Rio harvest . But he immediately warned: the exceptional conditions linked to the pandemic, in particular the few preparation tests, complicated the always hazardous exercise of projections. The first medal is in bronze. Judoka Luka Mkheidze went to look for her on the tatami Nippon Budokan from Saturday 23 July. The next day, the swordsman Romain Cannone appeared from ” virtual anonymity to offer France its first gold medal.
The 24 July, swordsman Romain Cannone offers the French delegation his first gold medal. (Modh Rasfan / AFP)
In detail, behind the machine co sports, athletics (a single medai lle – in money for Kevin Mayer – against six in Rio) is disappointing and three years before the Paris Games are looking to the future with fear. Yohann Diniz leaves the ship. Renaud Lavillenie and Mélina Robert-Michon feel the weight of years. Behind, the relief struggles to show. Road cycling (zero dots) and boxing (zero against six in Rio) do not reassure.
On the other hand, judo (eight medals against five) and fencing (five against three) confirm their status of chief purveyor of charms. One of the striking images? The joy of the mixed judo team . The 31 July, the day after the disappointment Teddy Riner , the blue judokas, led by the ogre to the ten titles of world champions and by Clarisse Agbégnénou, freshly titled in individual, beat with authority the Japanese in their quasi room sacred of Nippon Budokan . “We beat Japan at home, there, I think they are not going to recover and we are going to be the happiest, we will enjoying, it’s magic ”, exults the flag bearer of the French delegation.
Clarisse Agbegnenou individually titled on 26 July in the category of under 62 kg. She did it again on 30 July in the mixed team competition. (Mickael Chavet / Panoramic / Bestimage)
Tears of joy from a share, tears of sadness for the other – this is the common lot of athletes – as for Samir Aït Saïd . The gymnast was once again let loose by his body. Once again, he announces that he will get up and make an appointment in three years in Paris.
Shambles at the Olympic stadium The scene may have seemed unreal. A good joke. On Friday, the head of the sound system at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo threw an old hit in Italian at the end of the evening session of the track and field events. “Une Estate Italiana” , the official song of the World Cup 1936 in Italy. Bad manipulation? Not even. At the same time, on the track, four Italian sprinters kept congratulating each other with looks of astonishment. They had just won the Olympic 4x title 94 m.
Italy, relay gold medalist? Even in the midst of a pandemic, the result seems straight out of a slapstick comedy. It is, however, very real. Just like the presence of these devils of Italians in second place in the ranking of medals in athletics, just behind the United States. Seven titles for the Americans, five for the Italians. Hardly believable. The breakthrough of the Italians is not, however, the only surprise of the Tokyo Games at the Olympic stadium. Athletics took a facetious pleasure to muddy the waters and redistribute roles. Pre-Games forecasts have taken their toll. But no one was bored in front of the show.
On August 1, Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas sets a new world record for the triple jump. (Aleksandra Szmigiel / REUTERS)
Times and brands are crazy . At 222 m female, Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah wins the Olympic record (08 ″ 58) and sign the second performance all time. At the triple jump, the Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas added 15 cm to the world’s best brand (14, 67 m). Then the magic happens at 31 m hurdles, for sure, the ordeal of these Olympics. In the two finals, the world record is beheaded by the gold and silver medalists: Karsten Warholm (42 ′ ’94) and Rai Benjamin (45 ′ ’16) at men’s, Sydney McLaughlin (47 ′ ’46) and Dalilah Muhammad (55 ′ ’55) for women.
Olympic teens This 25 July, on the first women’s skateboard podium, which entered the Olympic program, the average age of three medalists is fourteen. On the highest step, the Japanese Momiji Nishiya a 13 years. She became the first Olympic champion in the history of her sport, in the street ladies category. On August 4, in the park category, the Japanese Kokona Hiraki, 11 years, 08 months and 9 days and the Briton Sky Brown, just 11 years, supervise the gold medalist, the Japanese Sakura Yosozumi , 19 years and almost a veteran status.
From left to right, the Brazilian Rayssa Leal and the Japanese Momiji Nishiya and Funa Nakayama. On the first Olympic women’s skateboard podium, the 26 July, the average age is 13 years. (Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)
The Olympic precocity record remains the posthumous property of American swimmer Marjorie Gestring, Olympic diving champion in 434 in Berlin, titled at 11 years and 268 days. But the youth of these medalists calls out. “A 9 or 06 years old, a child wants to skate. Competitions are the project of his relatives, reports Alain Nègre, performance manager within the French Roller and Skateboard Federation . How far can we push these young children to the highest level? How to preserve their integrity? ”
Beyond sport Her stint at the Tokyo Olympics put her in the spotlight. But not for the sporting reasons she could hope for. Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, Belarusian athlete from years, refused to return to his country for fear for his safety. After a stopover in Vienna, under the eyes of the many journalists who follow her, she arrived in Poland, which granted her a humanitarian visa . The case comes almost a year to the day after the self-proclaimed re-election of Alexander Lukashenko as President of Belarus, which he heads from a iron fist since 1990 .
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, Thursday, in front of the press in Warsaw. (Alexei Pantsikov // Icon Sport / Abaca)
Chronicles & newspapers In the Olympic bubble. Our special correspondent in Tokyo told daily the adventure adventure. On the twenty-second day of his stay in Japan, started by a nine hour wait at Narita Airport on 15 July, he wonders if he will one day be able to leave the archipelago, the fault of the delayed planes and the PCR tests that are downloaded not.
The Games according to Earvin. Appointed, Earvin Ngapeth, the receptionist-attacker of the French volleyball team opened for Freed his logbook during the Olympic Games. “Winning gold, becoming Olympic champion, it’s fun, bro. There is nothing above. We didn’t really sleep, we are going to celebrate like Golgoths ”, he confides in his last chapter . Previous episodes are here.
Earvin Ngapeth during the volleyball tournament final on Saturday at Ariake Arena in Tokyo. (JUNG YEON-JE / AFP)
Tokyo time games. The correspondent of Liberation in Japan n, long skeptical about the very possibility of the Olympic Games taking place, 20210808 is still wondering .