2020, Olympic year. They dream of partying at the Tokyo Games from July 24 to August 9. For a consecration, a revenge, a lap of honor, a redemption. Throughout this year which will end for them and them in tears of joy, pain or disappointment, Release follows four athletes in full preparation: Quentin Bigot, crazy hammer athlete, Michaël Guigou, backpacker for hand pitches, Marie Oteiza, discreet pentathlete, and Ysaora Thibus, fine blade. For these four, the main thing will be to participate in the Olympic Games. And if possible to shine.
Read episode 1: Michaël Guigou, never satisfied
In twenty years of professional career, Michaël Guigou had never seen one of his coaches landed. The unthinkable happened in January, when Didier Dinart, coach of the French handball team, was dismissed from his post, replaced by his assistant Guillaume Gille. A revolution across the discipline, more used to ten-year terms and smooth transitions: Dinart's predecessors, Daniel Costantini and Claude Onesta, reigned from 1985 to 2001 and 2001-2016.
"Mayonnaise does not take well enough"
The Dinart experience ended with elimination in the first round of the European Championship. Above all, five months before the Tokyo Games, the Blues still do not have their ticket in their pocket for the Olympic adventure. "We were warned, we knew that our chicken was complicated with teams like Norway and Portugal", analyzes Michaël Guigou. Who refuses to expand on Dinart’s relations with his players – many of whom were his partners in the blue jersey – and a possible breach of confidence. “What happens internally stays internally. I have taken note of the decisions of the federation, but I do not want to comment on them. "
The left winger summarizes his position as follows: "I understand the questions, but above all it is up to us to be good on the field, this is the track that I have always favored." A way of saying that the problem is not limited to the Dinart case. "We have a lot of good players, but the mayonnaise doesn't take well enough, develops Guigou. We show great things at times, but we lack continuity in important moments. ” He does not exclude himself from reflection, saying he wants to "to be good" with his Nîmes club for "Hope to be selected".
"We are less scary than in the past"
The deadline is set for mid-April: an Olympic qualification tournament (TQO), contested in Bercy, against Croatia, Tunisia and Portugal. Four teams for two places, the task is far from being won. The Croats have reached the final of the last European championship, Tunisia is vice-champion of Africa and Portugal remains on two victories in its last three oppositions against France. "We have to be honest, we are less scary than in the past, recognizes Guigou. We will be at home, with the support of our audience, which is an advantage. But if it goes wrong, we will not have to crack completely at the end of the match and limit the damage, because the goal average will be important. ”
Failure to qualify for the Games would be a painful ending for the federation. The sporting successes of the two French teams (women already have their place for Tokyo) are the main fuel for attracting new members and sponsors. The new staff, made up of Guillaume Gille and Chambéry coach Erick Mathé as assistant, should not be missed. They will meet their group a week before the TQO, "Good timing to get your bearings", according to Guigou. The program is simple: "To be better in all areas, from individual performances to the game project."