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ROAD TO 2024: WHEN FRENCH SQUASH DREAM OF THE OLYMPICS ...

Événements 25/11

While squash is campaigning to be included in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, every month on the 24th we present to you our series of articles - called “Road to 2024”.

For this second episode, we spoke to a dozen of French players, of various generations and profiles. To a different extent, they can all hope to be in Paris in six years should squash be invited to the party. They tell us about their relationship with the Olympic Games, through two topics. Enjoy the read.

By Jérôme Elhaïk

Dr (Cliquez sur le drapeau pour lire l'article en français)

Logo

 

Trombinoscope

1: Camille Serme (29 years old, French #1 and World #4 – will be 35 yo in 2024); 2: Sébastien Bonmalais (20 years old, French #8 and World #90 – will be 26 yo in 2024); 3: Marie Stéphan (22 years old, French #5 and World #201 – will be 28 yo in 2024); 4: Manuel Paquemar (17 years old, U19 French #3 – will be 22 yo in 2024); 5: Énora Villard (25 years old, French #3 and World #61 – will be 30 yo in 2024); 6: Victor Crouin (19 years old, French #7 and World #82 – will be 25 yo in 2024); 7: Chloé Mesic (27 years old, French #4 and World #83 – will be 33 yo in 2024) ; 8: Paul Gonzalez (16 years old, U17 French #2 – will be 21 yo in 2024); 9: Baptiste Masotti (23 years old, French #6 and World #71 – will be 29 yo in 2024); 10: Ninon Lemarchand (15 years old, U19 French #2 – will be 21 yo in 2024); 11 : Enzo Corigliano (21 years old, French #10 and World #144 – will be 27 yo in 2024); 12: Élise Romba (21 years old, French #18 - #6 before her injury in April 2018 and World #167 – will be 35 yo in 2024); 13: Grégoire Marche (27 years old, French #4 and World #35 – will be 33 yo in 2024)

Thanks to all of them for their contribution!

Photo credits: Nicolas Barbeau / Jean-Luc Paquemar / Miklphotos.fr / Emmanuelle Boyer / Élise Romba / Victor Crouin / Chloé Mesic / Penn Athletics / Rob White

 

OLYMPIC MEMORIES

 

When you think about the Olympic Games, is there something specific that comes into your mind? 

 

 

Camille Serme

 

"For me, the Olympic Games are first and foremost about track and field and especially the 100 meters, which is the major event and the most watched in the world. I don't have a specific memory in mind, but I love watching the Olympics on TV, I get excited for any sport!”

 

 

Sébastien Bonmalais

 

"For me, the Olympic Games are mostly about track and field, and Usain Bolt winning those gold medals on 100 and 200 meters again and again. What really stuck to my mind is the way his country went crazy with him and for him. I also think about Teddy Riner, I got really excited during his final against a Russian guy (author's note: Alexander Mikhaylin, in 2012 in London).” 

Usain Bolt 

Usain Bolt and his Jamaician fans (Photo credit: The Telegraph) 

 

Marie Stéphan

 

"Two things come to my mind when I think about the Olympic Games: Alain Bernard's gold medal on 100 metres freestyle in Beijing in 2008, as well as this of the 4×100 metre freestyle relay in London in 2012. These were two exceptional wins for France!”

Relais 4x100 2012 

The French 4×100 metre freestyle relay won the gold medal in London in 2012 (Photo credit: AFP / C.Simon) 

 

Manuel Paquemar

 

“There are so many things which come to my mind. But the one that really stayed with me is the gold medal of the French horse-riding team in 2016. I started to follow this sport after watching a documentary about Kévin Staut. Besides, the way it went was incredible, because they had very little chance to beat the United States. But Astier Nicolas and his horse Piaf de B'Neville made the French camp go wild after a stunning performance on the obstacle course. I think I'll remember that moment for all my life. It was all the more important as it was the first medal for France. Since the beginning of the Olympics the phrase The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight, could be applied to the French athletes …

 

Énora Villard

 

"The Olympic Games are a sporting event that I truly love to watch, and there are so many sportsmen and women and events that it is difficult to have one image in mind. For me the latest one would be the triple gold medal of Martin Fourcade in biathlon at the Winter Olympic Games. I find he's an athlete which one can be easily be attached to. His constant focus, his accuracy and the way he pushes his limits are rather impressive. I was also emotional when Tony Yoka and Estelle Mossely won together in boxing in 2016. Generally, I also like the relay events. Beyond the athletic performance, I have to say that I have a soft spot for beautiful stories!”

 

Victor Crouin

 

"I've always been excited about the Olympic Games, whether the summer or the winter ones. I've always watched this event with admiration, while being sad that the sport I love was not featuring. Nevertheless, as a good patriot I am happy every time a French athlete wins a medal. Teddy Riner is undoubtedly one of the French athletes I followed the most during the Olympic Games. He's an icon for any sportsperson, for several reasons: first of all, when he's the favorite he lives up to the expectations almost all the time. And secondly, when he wins he does it with style. it. Florent Manaudou's win in the 50 meters freestyle a few years ago was also an emotional moment, and the French handball team is always impressive to watch. It's difficult to choose a specific memory because the magic of the Olympic Games is there every time a French athlete wins or gets a medal.”

 Teddy Riner

Teddy Riner is one of the biggest icons in French sport (Photo credit: AFP/Jack Guez)

 

 

Ninon Lemarchand 

 

"The picture which pops into my head is when the French gymnast Mélanie de Jesus dos Santos won last summer. (author's note: this was actually at the European Games in Glasgow). That's right I am getting confused … But I really enjoyed watching her performance, the way she won was superb!

 

Paul Gonzalez

 

"The picture I have in mind when it comes to the Olympic Games is Teddy Riner's gold medal in Rio in 2016.”

 

Baptiste Masotti

 

“When I think about the Olympic Games, I see Florent Manaudou's win in 2012 (in London) while his sister was commentating, it was a beautiful moment.”

Florent Manadou 

Baptiste Masotti (on the right) with swimmer Florent Manaudou, but on a squash court (Photo credit: Baptiste Masotti) 

 

 

Chloé Mesic

 

"What always amazed me with the Olympic Games is the impressive opening ceremony, with all the people involved (whether it's on site or behind the screens), as well as the fact that the whole world unifies around sport. We all speak the same language, we are all equal, and may the best wins! I also remember the joyful celebration of the French team in horse-riding - another sport that I love - in 2016.

Astier Nicolas

The horse-riding French team, gold medalist in Rio in 2016 (Photo credit: FFE/PSV)

 

Enzo Corigliano

 

"When I think about the Olympic Games, I see Teddy Riner's medal in Beijing in 2008. It was the first time that I was watching the Games on TV. And since I got the chance to meet him a couple of times at INSEP, that's the first thing which comes into mind.”

 

Élise Romba

 

“When I think about the Olympic Games, what immediately pops into my head is not necessarily an athlete, because it is difficult to identify yourself with someone when it's a different sport. I rather see a podium, because it represents the reality of the sportspersons as well the emotions produced after winning the most prestigious of sporting events. That's why we hope to have the chance to be part of it, in order to be able to feel the same things than these Olympic medalists.”

 

 

Grégoire Marche

 

“When I think about the Olympic Games, I especially have in mind all the opening ceremonies, with the French delegation of athletes entering the stadium. It would be a dream come true to experience this one day!”

Cérémonie d'ouverture Rio 2016 

The French delegation at the opening ceremony in Rio in 2016 (Photo credit: Le Point)

 

 

 

TIME TRAVEL

 

Imagine that you can project yourself 6 years into the future, you are taking part in the 2024 Olympics: where are you in Paris, playing against who etc.?

 

 

Camille Serme 

 

“Where do I see myself in 6 years in Paris? On the Champ de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower, playing the final against Raneem El Welily, and it's the last match of both our careers (author's note: they have played against each other since the juniors and are good friends off the court).”

Serme El Welily

Camille Serme (on the right) could see herself ending her career with an Olympic final against Raneem El Welily (Photo credit: SquashSite)

 

 

Sébastien Bonmalais

 

“Where do I see myself in 6 years in the Olympic Games? On a glass court in front of the Eiffel Tower. I am in the final against one of the world class players of that time, hopefully a French one. That would be a dream come true, and I hope that we will be in the Olympic Games in 2024. As far as I am concerned, I'll do everything I can to belong to the squash elite in 2024, or even before that if things go well.”

 

Marie Stéphan

 

“I can picture myself at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower, on a glass court playing against Nele Gilis, who was one of my main rivals in juniors (author's note: she lost against the Belgian player in the European Junior Championship final in 2014).”

 

Manuel Paquemar

 

“The atmosphere is incredible, and I see a glass court. It's completely black, with bright yellow lines. It was especially designed for the Olympic Games, and there are powerful white lightings on top. We are in the Musée du Louvre's courtyard, in front of 10,550 people (record attendance for a squash match). I was seeded 24, and after causing two upsets in the previous rounds I find myself in the semi-final against Edwin Clain. It's a great match and I am 11-10 up in the fifth game. Unfortunately, that's when I open my eyes again. We'll have to wait 6 years to know the ending…”

Paquemar Clain

Manuel Paquemar closed his eyes and saw an Olympic semifinal between him and Edwin Clain (Photo credit: Nicolas Barbeau)

 

Énora Villard 

 

“I have to say I have trouble projecting myself so far into the future… But if I had the chance to feature in the Olympic Games in Paris, I'd say that the perfect spot would be a glass court on the place du Trocadéro in front of the Eiffel Tower. As far as choosing a match and an opponent, it's a little bit too specific…”

Trocadero 

Énora Villard is not the only one dreaming of a glass court in front of the Eiffel Tower (Photo credit: AFP / C.Simon)  

 

Victor Crouin 

 

“Paris is such a magnificent city, full of history and world famous monuments. Nevertheless, playing in front of the Eiffel Tower would be a dream come true! I could easily imagine a rematch of the 2017 World Junior Championship, that's to say an Olympic final between myself and Marwan Tarek, who is now my teammate in Harvard. That would be a beautiful story… Let's see if it can become real in 6 years!” 

 

 

Enzo Corigliano 

 

“I prefer being honest: I can't picture myself taking part in the Olympic Games because I don't think I am good enough for this huge event. But I would be in the stands to watch the final at Opéra Garnier, between my Totor (the one and only Victor Crouin) and an Egyptian prodigy. And let's say that Victor will win comprehensively on his home soil, that would be great wouldn't it?"

Crouin Tarek 

Victor Crouin (in red) and Enzo Corigliano had a similar vision (Photo credit: #BJOSquash) 

 

Paul Gonzalez

 

“I often think about the Olympic Games, and I can easily imagine see myself in the final against another French player, on a glass court in the Grand Palais!”

Grand Palais 

While almost all the others dream of the Trocadéro, Paul Gonzalez is thinking about the Grand Palais to host the squash competitions (Photo credit: Sortir à Paris) 

 

Baptiste Masotti

 

“I can easily picture myself at the bottom of the Eiffel tower, playing the first round against a top 10 player, in front of my family and friends.”

 

Chloé Mesic

 

“I see myself on a glass court at Trocadéro, playing a doubles match alongside Enora Villard.”

 

Ninon Lemarchand

 

“I see myself playing against my usual opponents, but nobody in particular. I am just sure of one thing, I am the winner at the end (laughters)…”

 

 

Élise Romba

 

“If I could project myself into the 2024 Olympics, I would certainly see myself playing on the magnificent place du Trocadéro, with a view on the Eiffel Tower. And since I get to decide, I am in the final of course! Against who I don't know, there are so many players and everybody's level will be different in 6 years. Why not another French player, to have two beautiful Olympic medals…”

 

Grégoire Marche

 

“I picture myself playing a quarterfinal match against Diego Elias (don't ask me why I picked him, I suppose he's young and will surely be one the top players at this time), on the stage of a theatre or an opera in Paris where the court will have been setup for the occasion. ” 

 

Marche

After the théâtre Graslin in Nantes, Grégoire Marche could see himself go on stage in another opera at the 2014 Olympic Games (Photo credit: Miklphotos.fr) 

 

 

The next episode of "Road to 2024" will be published on the 24th of December.

 

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