If the question of selections is an old sea serpent of French athletics, the list unveiled, Wednesday, June 29, by the director of high performance of the Federation, Romain Barras, left many athletes and observers speechless. In the eye of the storm: the sprint and the middle distance, whose delegations have been drastically reduced compared to the Doha Worlds or the Tokyo Games. Le French sprinter, flashed in 10”10 on the straight line this season, was thus not retained by the FFA (minimum at 10″03), and will not compete in the Individual Worlds.
“It’s disappointment. A big disappointment. There is only one person selected in the individual sprint. This year, there was a wall and I struggled to do the minimums when I did them easily before.“, laments Jimmy Vicaut from his hotel, when the list of selected for the Eugene Worlds (July 15-24) was announced.
Out of 44 events (men and women combined), 19 minima set by the Federation are higher than those set by World Athletics, in particular in sprint and middle distance. “We have not tightened the minimums, we have harmonized them between disciplines to ensure that all the athletes selected can aim for a Top 16. […] We have criteria of sedemanding election”qualified in a press conference, Wednesday, Romain Barras.
The measure had been engaged after the rout of Doha 2019 (only two medals for Pascal Martinot-Lagarde and Quentin Bigot) then Tokyo (Kevin Mayer the only medalist). “We won’t take tourists”, then proclaimed President André Giraud. This time, the ambition of the Federation is to present the most competitive team possiblequit to reduce the airfoil of the athletes.
Immediate effect of the selection parameters: only one French sprinter was retained on the list of selected: Mouhamadou Fall, drafted over 200m (20″26). “I don’t know if it targeted sprinters, there are several of us in this case, but yes I don’t think all the disciplines were treated in the same way. But that’s how it is. The minima are at 10″03 , I should have run faster and full stop”reacted Jimmy Vicaut, qualified only in the 4×100 meters team at the Worlds.
At the end of the qualification period for the world championships, only 6 athletes (in the world) managed to run the French NPR over 1500m.
End of the joke.
— Miellouse (@Alexis_Miellet) June 29, 2022
“We will have to be content with Europe”, slice of his side Hugo Hay. The 5,000m runner also does not appear on the list, despite a stopwatch in 13’12”14 (minimum of World Athletic at 13’13”50) at the start of the season. The French champion does not meet the minimums of the French Athletics Federation, raised to 13’09”00 for the Worlds.
“If they had told me from my first race: ‘it’s good, you’ve qualified’, I would have prepared for a month and a half really thoroughly and I would have been even better at the world championships. Whereas there, if we have reduced delegations, the young people will not acquire experience in this kind of championship. In the middle distance, championship races are not at all the same as in meetings, we need that experience, to do tactical races with the Kenyans”. reacted the Habs, who fail to project themselves towards Europe.
The French Athletics Federation, for its part, wants to redirect these athletes to the European Championships in Munich (August 15-21): “It’s a first step towards Budapest and Paris, the athletes will gain experience in the face of international competition”, pointed out Romain Barras. In the middle distance, alone Benjamin Robert, Gabriel Tual and Pierre-Ambroise Bosse over 800 meters and Jimmy Gressier over 10,000 meters have managed to climb onto the list of selected.
But this race to the minimums left its mark on the athletes who had to shake up their preparation. “We had to have three peaks in form. In the middle distance it’s complicated, it requires a lot of intelligence and reflection. This means that we have to be in very good shape in May and June to achieve standards which are still very high, then be good in July at the Worlds and not be cooked in August at the Europe”. explained Hugo Hay, leaving for the United States where the runner must begin a training course at altitude, and to add: “However, you can’t be in good shape all the time, so you have to make choices. There, we have a little the impression that we are being put in the way, it does not help us to be in good shape in the big championship. We need adjustments and when we don’t have this flexibility at the minimum level, it’s complicated”.
— HH (@Hugo_Hay) June 29, 2022
For Jimmy Vicaut, the timing was not ideal either: “The clock is starting to go down, you have to wake up and get out of the good performances. Of course I’m disappointed but I’m going to have fun, run, and refocus on the rest of the season. There are still meetings and the Europe in Munich. We will go step by step.”
Some athletes who did not achieve the minima were nevertheless able to be fished out, such as Mélina Robert-Michon (disc), Yann Chaussinand (hammer), Ninon Chapelle (pole), Mouhamadou Fall (200m), or the triple jumpers Benjamin Compaoré, Enzo Hodebar and Melvin Raffin. A difference in treatment justified by their ability to “be in the Top 16 in the world” according to Romain Barras, and which is based on other more complex criteria (protected athletes, World Athletic ranking, high potential calculation algorithm, etc.).
Between happy and disappointed, and despite efforts at transparency, the selections have further divided French athletics.