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Olympics: in Tokyo, French team sports are a big hit


Basketball players, volleyball players and handball players have won their ticket to the last four. The women of basketball and hand will try to imitate them.

Correspondent

Three out of three for men. In turn, this Tuesday, the French handball, basketball and volleyball teams won their ticket to the semi-finals, with a more or less clear view of their respective podium. And this Wednesday, the handball players (against the Netherlands, 1:45 p.m.) and the basketball players (against Spain, 2 p.m.) will try to complete a table so far perfect for its three disciplines.

Handball can dream

First in action very early (9:30 am in Tokyo), Nikola Karabatic and his partners had the quietest quarter-final of the day on the French side. Opposed to modest Bahrain, the Blues have not done in the lace with success, very clear and without burrs (42-28). Since the start of the Olympic tournament, Guillaume Gille’s men have offered a very attractive offensive game, with magnificent talents such as Dika Mem and Melvyn Richardson. This could open the way to a new final, which would be their fourth in a row after the coronations of 2008 and 2012 for the generation of Experts, followed by a final lost against Denmark five years ago in Rio.

Thursday, the French will challenge the surprising Egyptians (10 hours). “It’s a growing team, with great athletic potential, analyzes the French coach. She had very good matches to find her place in this last four..The Blues intend to prevent Egypt, the first African team to win an Olympic semi-final in handball, from also becoming the first to play a final.

Basketball against a giant

The Blues trembled but they were able to have the last word on Italy (84-75) thanks in particular to the duo stamped NBA Rudy Gobert (22 points) – Evan Fournier (21). They thus continue their perfect course in Tokyo, started by a resounding success over the United States (83-76) and followed by victories full of control against the Czech Republic (97-77) and Iran (79-62). . And to listen to their coach, Vincent Collet, they clearly do not want to stop there, they who openly dream of a final that looks like a reunion with the Americans: “We are greedy and we want to continue, even if Slovenia which is presented in front of us (Thursday at 1 p.m.) is formidable, with Luka Doncic.

The Slovenian interior is today one of the top three players on the planet, if not the best. But the danger would consist in worrying only about him, at the risk of being punished by the other Slovenes, as Collet’s analysis: “We have to find the right balance: controlling Doncic, not letting him score 50 points, but without sacrificing everything because they have a lot of excellent long-range shooters. And it will also be necessary to sanction them offensively. There are real possibilities here.

Volleyball for revenge

For the first time in its history, France will play an Olympic semi-final in volleyball. Unpublished, therefore, that the “Survivors”, as their coach, Laurent Tillie calls them, were sought after the suspense against Poland, double reigning world champion stunned in five sets (2/3). With this moment, incredible, in the last act where Laurent Tillie believed to have become a player again to dive on a ball in defense.“A moment of madness”, as he explained afterwards.

“By dint of being around crazy people, I have become one myself.” For a place in the final, Earvin Ngapeth and his partners will have to take their revenge on Argentina (Thursday, 2 p.m.), who had beaten them in five sets during the group stage. “It’s going to be hard, the Argentines are playing very, very well, says Benjamin Toniutti, captain and passer of the Blues. Now what we have done is enormous. I’ve been here for twelve years, I wanted that, we wanted that, that we all do it together with the group, it’s something exceptional. ”

French cycling offers a tanned smile

By Jean-Julien Ezvan (special correspondent)

After the disappointments during the road, mountain biking and BMX events, the tricolor cycling offered itself a bronze medal (the 24 of the French delegation), won on Tuesday by the promising speed team composed of Florian Grengbo (the starter ), Sébastien Vigier (the torchbearer), Rayan Helal (the finisher) in an event won by the Netherlands ahead of Great Britain.

In the playoffs, with ants in the legs and a mad desire to do well, the Blues had beaten New Zealand and the French record. To gain momentum. In January, Grégory Baugé announced his retirement. The French sprint, which rested on his broad shoulders, had turned the page, unsure how long it would take him to rebuild a competitive trio, the puzzle was quickly put together and the results were quick.

Winners of Australia in the race for the bronze medal, the young French people extend the blue series with a podium in the Olympic team sprint event (after silver in 2008 and 2012 and bronze in 2004 and 2008). Rayan Helal relished: “This medal is the culmination of a great year of work, and we can be proud of our team, of our time and of this medal. We believed in ourselves, we had prepared ourselves for a series of very hard efforts, we were ready to die on the bike, we did not give up and we remained very united. We thought we all wanted to be washed out in the end, that’s the case, but with a bronze medal.

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