“Keep this human wealth”, this time, France does not want to let its fencing masters slip away

From our special correspondent,

Big smile on his face, Bruno Gares, the president of the Fédé d’Escrime, squeezes all the pognes he meets in the Makuhari Hall in Tokyo after the gold of the foilists in fireworks of a very successful week. Arrives Pierre Guichot, the director of the French teams, who calls out to him. “So president, is it okay, am I not in the cart?” “. All that would be missing is that after five medals, two of which are gold, the best record since Athens. The joke, in the hollow, tells a little about the turbulence experienced by French fencing in recent years, as well as its main obsession: how to retain fencing masters that the whole world is tearing apart?

Hugues Obry soon to be repatriated

In Japan, we saw Grégory Koenig, the former coach of the tricolor foil team, lead Hong Kong’s Cheung Ka Long to the Olympic title in the girls’ category, and Hugues Obry kiss the Chinese Sun Yiwen, titled at the sword. The latter gave his instructions at the edge of the track for the victory of the Blues in team épée in Rio. But like others before, he had left, slamming the door loudly behind him. Guichot himself had gone English, before being repatriated last fall. “At one point, we weren’t considered, we couldn’t work in France as we wanted. If we left, me the first, it was not to take money ”. So much for the accusation which sticks to the Basques of “fugitives”, debauched at a price of gold, it is true, by the foreign powers.

For example Christian Bauer, the first to monetize his immense talent in Italy, China, and Russia, the last decade. Former trainer of the swordsmen of the French team at the end of the 90s, he has now founded a private academy in Orléans, and posted his first prize of war. Boladé Apithy, who preferred to let go of Insep in the spring. “We cannot prohibit an athlete from training where he wishes,” notes Bruno Gares, head of a federation now also in competition with private structures.

“It’s his choice, he assumes the consequences. What we remember is that he did not receive a medal, which perhaps means that we should not leave the federal system. The system is powerful, but it needs to be reorganized. Today the France team, if we fine-tune it well, it can do more than the five medals we just won ”.

Objective 12 medals in Paris?

Very optimistic, Gares even put forward the figure of 12 medals in Paris. “We will probably not succeed, but if we start to say that 4 or 5 is enough, everyone will look at each other to do them,” Guichot supports. We have a president who wants to bring people back, as Hugues Obry, who will return with this experience acquired abroad. We have the ANS that helps us, I hope that we will be even stronger in the supervision, therefore with stronger repercussions on the athletes. We must do everything to keep our talents and all this human wealth for Paris 2024 ”.

One of these talents has been around for a long time. Jean-Philippe Daurelle, the coach of the sabers, “has always stayed”. “I am happy to work with all my colleagues at Insep, there are only young people. They must be my age all together. We are part of the French tradition ”. His assistant, Cyril Verbracker, confirms: “Our two saber medals, they reward eight years of work, four coaches and a physical trainer to shoot with a group of 12 girls”. You have to see how they talk about it. “Since he arrived he has made us champions, women, beautiful people,” says Charlotte Lembach.

Daurelle and the sabers, an example

Cécilia Berder goes even further: “he is the greatest creative genius that I know in the world in fencing. He is someone who is able to invent things for you morning, noon, and evening. Every day it will upset you, ask you to continue to progress and it is dizzying. But what are we progressing. Every day we search, there was Picasso in painting, there is Daurelle in fencing ”. Devoted 100% to the Belzer-Berder-Brunet-Lembach quartet since the boys were eliminated, the saber sculptor could change positions at the start of the school year, much to the despair of Berder and the others.

“The casting is not stopped, defends Bruno Gares. I’ve been thinking about having the best staff for 2024 for eight months. It’s important to make our fencing masters vibrate, to vibrate our athletes. I presented a project to certain coaches who have accepted or who will agree to come at the start of the school year ”. It’s better when it’s in that sense.

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