A first step on the road to Tokyo. Less than sixty days before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, the French athletics team set down in Chorzów, Poland, for the European Team Championships. Twenty women’s and men’s events are organized throughout the weekend, the best place obtained bringing the most points to its collective. Bronze medalists in the last three editions of the competition, the Blues hope to do at least as well, even if most of the leaders of the discipline are absent.
Renaud Lavillenie, Mélina Robert-Michon and Pascal Martinot-Lagarde have notably overlooked this competition. The French team is therefore getting a makeover, with several “rookies” and lesser-known faces. Focus on those who primarily target Paris 2024 but which could be found in Japan this summer.
Margot Chevrier (pole vault)
While the French record holder of the discipline, Ninon Guillon-Romarin should soon return to competition after giving birth to a little boy, the Nice Margot Chevrier took advantage of the 2020 season to explode her personal record, by crossing a bar at 4.50 m. What to review its priorities. “Basically, my career plan was the Paris Games in 2024. But when the minimums are no more than 20 cm, it can do it”, admitted the medical student to the daily L’Équipe this Saturday. Fourth in the competition with a bar at 4.25 m, her best jump of the season, she will have to go much higher to qualify.
Claire Palou (3 000 m steeple)
Fifth this Saturday, the youngest of the France team (19) signed a new personal best for her return to the distance, in 9’55”40. Trained by Adrien Taouji at INSEP, she often shone among young people. Double European vice-champion in the discipline, first among the cadets in 2018, then among the juniors in 2019. This winter, she won at the French Elite Championships over 1500 m in 4′12 ′ ‘ 62, a time synonymous with a record for France hopes.
Just Kwaou-Mathey (110m hurdles)
Difficult to find his way in this discipline where France has often shone in recent years: Dimitri Bascou medalist in Rio in 2016, Pascal Martinot-Lagarde world bronze medalist in 2019 in Doha, and more recently Wilhem Belocian winner of the Championships of Europe in theaters this winter. The 21-year-old hurdler is gradually climbing up the national hierarchy, with a new personal best of 13”38 set in Angers on May 15. Just Kwaou-Mattey will be to follow this Sunday shortly after 1 p.m.
Léna Kandissounon (800 m)
After five selections in the youth categories, in particular over the 400m where she signed her first podiums, the native of Brest was rewarded for her beautiful winter. In Miramas, she won her first elite French champion title. Fourth in her race this Saturday, she also signed a new personal best in 2′02′’75. It will take under two minutes to hope to be on the trip to Tokyo this summer.
And Tavernier is getting closer to his French record …
More experienced, Hugo Hay, 24, (fifth selection in A, 6th in the last European Indoor Championships in the 3000m) also made a good impression on Saturday. He broke his personal best in the 5,000m to cross the finish line in 13’17”95, and was only four seconds off the Olympic minimum.
Note the great victory of Alexandra Tavernier in the hammer throw, who almost looked “old” in this workforce. With a throw of 75.06 m, she approached her own French record (75.38 m). Mouhamadou Fall on 100m, Thomas Jordier on 400m and Rouguy Diallo in the triple jump also scored the maximum points for the Blues. At the end of the first day, the French team occupies fifth place, around ten points from the podium. Everything remains to be done this Sunday.