Fly French beach, feet on Roman sand, to Paris-2024

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Rome (Italy) (AFP) – In the Beach Volleyball Worlds, until Sunday in Rome, the French duo Youssef Krou / Arnaud Gauthier-Rat are rubbing shoulders with the international au gratin, already thinking about the great meeting of the Paris Olympic Games of 2024, the first Games in twenty years where France will be twenty years old. be represented in this discipline.

Before rediscovering the Olympic flavor, for the first time since the 2004 Athens Games, thanks to a guaranteed place as an organizing country but with the hope of a second ticket through the Olympic classifications, France also returns to the World Cup. after seven years out. .

The two French teams facing off on the sand of the Foro Italico, on the banks of the Tiber, Alexia Richard and Lézana Placette in women and Youssef Krou and Arnaud Gauthier-Rat in men, played on Monday the last matches of the group (1 victory and 1 defeat ). ) to try to qualify for the round of 16.

“Looking ahead to the Games, we have to face the best and be under pressure. And that happened during the World Cup,” Youssef Krou, 32, a member of the last couple, told AFP. French view at this level. in 2015 (with his ex-partner Edouard Rowlandson).

Frenchman Youssef Krou, accompanied by teammate Arnaud Gauthier-Rat, serves against Americans Taylor Sander and Taylor Crabb on June 10, 2022 in Rome during the World Beach Volleyball Championships. Anthony LUCAS AFP / Archives

This ticket to Rome has been won thanks to the good results obtained during the first three tournaments played in the spring (Brazil, Qatar, Turkey) by the new duet he now forms with Gauthier-Rat.

“Maximizing the odds”

“We unite in personality at many points, in our way of working. Our game system, we have built it from A to Z, is of high precision”, rejoices the latter, an engineer in training of 25 years.

“This classification validates our start to the season,” he added.

“You have to travel, you have to win, you have to lose to keep progressing,” said Koussef Krou, a “silversmith” since April 2014, who passed close to the 2016 Olympic qualifiers. By 2021, for Tokyo, France had failed again. marginalized by his defeat in the Continental Cup.

Christophe Victor, head of beach volleyball at the French Volleyball Federation (FFVB), ​​also celebrates the “first goal” achieved with the return of the Tricolors to the World Cup, an award for “important preparation during the winter, with a session of three weeks in Brazil “.

Looking ahead to the Games, the classification of which will be good results from January 2023 (until June 2024), the aim will be to “maximize the chances of having two successful pairs”, adds the leader, present in Rome.

Grausses barely full

Alongside the pure “beachers” Krou and Gauthier / Rat, another duo has been recruited from the “indoor” world on the tracks. The choice fell on two players who played beach volleyball for young people: Julien Lyneel, 32, European champion in 2015 with the blues but who has never had the pleasure of playing in the Games, and Rémi Bassereau, 23 years.

Both have just started training in the arena and will be playing their first tournaments in a few weeks. We also saw them working during a competition scheduled at Roland Garros in late September.

“The idea is to have these two teams on the circuit during the year and a half of qualifying to try to qualify one through the world rankings (first 17, ed.) To have two teams in the Games,” sums up Christophe Victor.

Because everyone knows that the Paris Games will obviously be an opportunity for this still confidential sport in France (3,500 licenses) to become a bigger place in the sun.

Arnaud Gauthier-Rat regrets, therefore, that players are not always “sufficiently promoted” when “there is an audience for this sport”.

“We have great world championships here, in a magnificent stadium, but I’m not sure many people know that,” he grimaces, pointing to the bland bleachers of the Roman central court, which were stormed a few weeks ago to play tennis. . stars.

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