Not selected for the Tokyo Games last summer, the 31-year-old double Olympic medalist (4x100m relay bronze in 2012 and 200m in 2016) takes a raw look at the French elite and the French Athletics Federation (FFA).
With what desire do you project yourself towards the summer season?
“I want to find the France team, at the Worlds in Eugene and at the Euro in Munich. I still have possibilities. The blue jersey is the goal of each season, it always makes me dream.”
How do you view French athletics?
“I was saddened to see the result at the Tokyo Olympics (a medal, silver for Kevin Mayer, editor’s note) compared to what we could have, and even should have harvested. In Rio in 2016 we had six medals, a big performance. Once my generation, with Mélina Robert-Michon, Kevin Mayer, Renaud Lavillenie, has disappeared, I say to myself… “But who will be there after? “That scares me a little. If the next generation doesn’t break through, if we don’t give it a chance, it’s going to hurt and that’s a shame. »
What is currently missing?
“It lacks relational, human. I understand that we have to focus on the sporting side, but we need a more global approach, with more contact, more ground on the part of the federation to know the problems of the athletes and to rectify the situation. I have the impression that at the fed there is not a serene and ideal atmosphere for high performance work. After these failed Games, I don’t have the impression that there is any questioning, but rather that the poor results are only blamed on the athletes, whereas there is a lot to be said on the federal side, which has its share in the poor performance. We are preparing for these Paris Games in athletics but too late. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see how that could change by 2024. If the problems persist until then, then it will take a big shake-up within the federation and hope to create a dynamic with the young people, to rebuild a conquering French team. »
“I am totally excluded so I no longer have too much information”
Have you been asked to provide your opinion, your experience?
” Not at all. I don’t know if there were any meetings or discussions (with athletes). For the relay, I was told that I was no longer in the group. I am totally excluded so I no longer have too much information. »
Two athletes in the 4x100m relay were recently sanctioned for their behavior in Tokyo, after in particular expressing their distrust of the management…
“I had the athletes (Mouhamadou Fall and Amaury Golitin) on the phone, they explained their version to me. It only surprised me halfway. Basically, I didn’t have a good relationship with the coach (Dimitri Demonière, replaced in 2022 at the head of the relay by Richard Cursaz and Fabien Lambolez, editor’s note), we didn’t agree on certain decisions, the athletes didn’t were not consulted. I also found the training not qualitative enough. We weren’t ready to do very high level 4x100m. We had written an open letter together to express our discomfort. We felt like we were being ignored. »
Among the next generation, what do you think of sprinter Jeff Erius (17), who equaled your French junior record in the 60m this winter?
“I met him this winter in competition. I hope first that he continues to progress, that he confirms in seniors, and above all that we leave him alone. The federation must help him, but we must leave him out of the wars of egos and we do not want to take him to Insep at all costs. I know a lot of people of my generation who were uprooted, at Insep, and who didn’t break through. Insep is a very nice structure but without feeling with the coach, or in case of discomfort, the athlete will not progress. The federation must develop high-level athletics everywhere in France, by giving the means to clubs and structures to develop. That young people are detected and accompanied as best as possible without uprooting them, protected from national coaches who would like to appropriate them for their ego and their image. »