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Top 10 : France's Gold Hopes at the 2012 Olympics (Latest)

By Matthieu Boisseau

With only 9 days left before start of the London 2012 Games, it is definitely time to take a last look at France’s best chances for Olympic gold. If you are a French supporter planning to attend one of the Olympic events, or if you want to watch on one of the giant screens at Club France then you should choose one of the following sports. Massive injection of national pride guaranteed when the Marseillaise rings out during the medal ceremony. Paris may have lost the 2012 Olympics bidding race, but there is no doubt France will get its revenge by hogging the top of the podiums in London.

Athletics :

Christophe Lemaitre :

Christophe Lemaitre
Christophe Lemaitre

Sport: 200 m.

Best known as : White lightening

Only Jamaican superstars Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake have gone faster than 22 year-old Lemaitre this season. Two conclusions may be drawn from that. First of all : Lemaitre will be running for third place at best in London. Secondly, he has a true chance of becoming the first French athlete to win a medal in sprint. The triple European champion proved he is running nicely into form ahead of the Olympics when he clocked a European-leading 200m time of 19.91 in London one week ago.

He may choose not to double up and do both the 100 and 200m at the London Games, to stay focused on the 200m, which is much more his thing.

Main opponents : Lemaitre is not the only athlete who proved that world sprinting is not necessarily ruled by Jamaicans and Americans. Norway’s Churandy Martina, the reigning European Champion, is neck and neck with the Frenchman on world rankings, as he has clocked 19.95 this season. He is also eyeing the bronze medal.



Pole Vault

Renaud Lavillenie :

Best known as : The Flying Frenchman


Flying Lavillenie
Flying Lavillenie

The explosive French athlete now regularly clears more than 6 meters and this season hescaled a world-leading 5.97 meters when he retained his pole vault title at the European Championships, beating the top-class opponents he will face again at the London Olympics.

Lavillenie is talented and hard-working enough to cope with the pressure in London, even if he is considered as the No. 1 favourite.  And the fact that he has won 11 of his last 12 competitions will undoubtedly have boosted his confidence.

Main opponent : Australia's Steve Hooker, the Olympic reigning champion, has a fabulous attitude and great experience, but he has suffered a lot of injuries and should not be at his best in London. Lavillenie should look at Germany’s Bjorn Otto and Malte Mohr, who finished 2nd and 3rd at the European Championship last month.


Teddy Riner


Teddy Riner
Teddy Riner


Sport : Heavyweight (+100 kg)

Best know as :The Giant

Five time World champion Teddy Riner is looking for his first Olympic gold, after merely walking away with bronze in 2008. He is just 23 but the Olympic gold is the only title he is still to win, so there is no doubt the 2.04 m (6 ft 8 1⁄2 in) and 286 lb (130 kg) Guadeloupe-born genius will be ready for the Olympics. His superhuman power is probably his best asset.

Main opponent : Himself. Teddy Riner has sometimes trouble imposing his rhythm in a fight. But at this Olympic event, there is no doubt he will go beyond his limits.



Grégory Baugé :

Sport : Track cycling

Best know as : The Colossus

Grégory Baugé
Grégory Baugé


Seven-times world champion Grégory Baugé has been in the best shape of his life... for the last two years. But last January, he received a backdated 12 month suspension for drug test infringements and was stripped of the two World titles he won in 2011.  But it gave him a strong spirit of revenge, and Baugé regained the World Championship Sprint title in 2012.

With his dazzling power and his impressive competitive spirit, Grégory Baugé could help France capture both the individual and team world titles, with his team-mates Kévin Sireau and Michael D’Almeida. He is the French cycling team's best chance to redeem itself after Beijing's failure, as the country won two track cycling medals only: silver in the team sprint behind Britain, and bronze for Mickaël Bourgain in the sprint.

Main opponents : In 2008, Sir Chris Hoy entered British Olympic history with a triple gold performance in Beijing. As the veteran is now on the decline, it could be the turn of his young protégé Jason Kenny to go for gold. Grégory Baugé knows very well that he will have to compete against two formidable opponents. But there is no doubt he will be strong enough to take up the challenge.


Whitewater slalom

Tony Estanguet

Sport : C-1

Best known as : The Mastermind

Estanguet won the gold in 2000 and 2004
Estanguet won the gold in 2000 and 2004


After a failure such as his at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics - he finished in 9th position in the semi-finals of the C-1 event and was thus eliminated from the final -, most of athletes would have given up. But that was without allowing for the 2000 and 2004 gold medalist's inextinguishable thirst for gold. After some introspection, Tony Estanguet realised that his approach to competition was not serene enough. This self-analysis enabled him to recover from his disappointment by winning the 2009 and 2010 World Championships and the 2011 European Championship. London 2012 provides him with a fantastic opportunity to end his career on a high, before running for the IOC Committee.

Main opponent : It has been one of the most thrilling duels in sport history, and the London Olympic final will be the last chapter of the never-ending rivalry between C1 slalom stars Tony Estanguet and Slovak Michal Martikan. The two men have won the last four Olympic titles. Who will have the last word ?


Modern pentathlon :

Amélie Cazé



Amélie Cazé
Amélie Cazé

Sport : To those who don't know what Modern pentathlon is : it is a sports contest that includes five events: pistol shooting, épée fencing, 200 m freestyle swimming, show jumping, and a 3 km cross-country run. It was invented by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, and it is really thrilling to watch. It requires athletes to be extremely well-rounded in order to get the highest number of points.

Best known as : The Unknown Queen

It is fair to say that France does not really pay attention to one of its best athletes. Last year, Amelie Caze won her eighth National crown. And two years ago she won both the World and European Championships and also helped the French team to win gold in Chengdu. However, it seems that was not enough to make her emerge from obscurity. After two honourable places at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics (respectively finishing in the 12th and 9th positions), it is now time for her to go for gold...and fame ?

Main opponent : In the team event, it will be a harsh battle between Britain and France. Let's hope it will be a re-run of the 2010 World Championships in the Britain's women won silver at the modern pentathlon, behind France.


Swimming :

Camille Lacourt

Camille Lacourt
Camille Lacourt


Sport :100m Backstroke

Best known as :the French Apollo

This athlete made the news in 2010 at the European Aquatics Championships, not only because he won 3 gold medals, but also because the crowd - mostly women - discovered his blues eyes and his Ken-like smile. Since becoming increasingly popular in France, he is now recognized as one of the figureheads of French swimming. He is more than able to shine at the Olympics, as he is second in the world all-time ranking list in the 100m Backstroke, not to mention he won the Gold medal at the 2011 World Championships.

Main opponents :Lacourt will face stiff opposition from American Nick Thoman as well as Japanese star Ryosuke Irie who beat Lacourt in Rome last month.

Alain Bernard, Fabien Gillot, Yannick Agnel, Amaury Leveaux

Alain Bernard, Fabien Gillot, Yannick Agnel, Frédérick Bousquet
Frédérick Bousquet, Alain Bernard, Yannick Agnel and Fabien Gilot


Sport : 4×100 m Freestyle Relay

Best known as :The Fantastic Four

After several disappointments at the 2008 Olympic Games, and at the World and European Championships, the 4×100 m Freestyle French Relay finally won its first gold medal at the 2010 World Swimming Championships (25 m) in Dubaï. Composed of some of the best sprinters in the world, the French team has been considered as the best for several years, but they have had trouble coping with the pressure. In this Olympic competition, it will be all the more crucial for them to win the gold medal in the team event as Australia’s James Magnussen is just unbeatable in the individual race.

Main opponents :the American Relay, which includes swimming legend Michael Phelps, is always at its best at the Olympics. They have been France's bête noire until now...



Sport :The men's team épée

Best know as :The Musketeers

Jérôme Jeannet
Jérôme Jeannet


Jérôme Jeannet, Jean-Michel Lucenay, Ulrich Robeiri, Gauthier Grumier : these men are the new Musketeers. Simply imagine : they have been undefeated in the World Championships and Olympic Games for 8 years, collecting 8 gold medals in a row ! They embody France's amazing performance levels in fencing, as the country has won an astounding 115 medals since 1896, becoming the most successful French Olympic athletes.

Main opponents : Long-standing rivals Italy may be the major threat for the French fencers.





Sport : The men's handball tournament

Best known as: Les Experts

Les Experts of handball
Les Experts of handball


Karabatic, Fernandez, Dinart, Abalo, Omeyer : these names are probably unknown in England, but in France, nobody can ignore them. These men are members of the French handball team, current Olympic Champions. They are nicknamed Les Experts and they were quite simply unbeatable, until the 2012 Euro, when they lost their first competition in 4 years. But this squad, probably the best team in all French sport history, is still able to get back to the top of the world.

Main opponents: Denmark is the European reigning champion. But in theory France is better. So what will happen in London ? 

Last time in Beijing, France hoovered up 41 medals in total, including 7 golds. It was their best performance since 1920, but they ended tenth in the medals table only , due to the poor number of titles they won. According to Franceinlondon's expectations, 10 medals are within reach. In your opinion, who can be the other French gold-diggers ?


In Beijing, France finished 10th

Gold Medals, JO 2008

7. France - Handball ( M )
6. Julien Absalon - VTT ( VTT - Cross country - M)
5. Anne-Caroline Chausson - BMX ( BMX - Single - F )
4. France - Fencing ( Team Sabre - M )
3. France - Fencing ( Team Foil - M )
2. Alain BERNARD - Swimming ( 100m freestyle - M )
1. Steve Guenot - Lutte gréco-romaine (66kg - M)

Silver Medals, JO 2008

16. Daouda Sow - Boxing ( 60kg - M )
15. Djelkhir Khedafi - Boxing ( 57kg - M )
14. Jean Christophe Peraud - VTT ( VTT - Cross country - M )
13. Laetitia le Corguillé - BMX ( BMX - Individuelle - F )
12. Julien Bontemps - Sailing ( RSX - M )
11. Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad - Athletics ( 3000m steeple - H )
10. Thomas Bouhail - Gymnastics  ( Saut de cheval - M )
9. Amaury Leveaux - Swimming ( 50m Free Style - M)
8. France - Cycling (Team speed - M)
7. Nicolas Lopez- Fencing ( Sabre - M )
6. Vencelas Dabaya-Tientcheu - Haltérophilie ( 69kg - M )
5. Julie Décosse - Judo ( -63kg - F )
4. Fabien Lefèvre- Canoeing-kayak ( K1 Slalom - M )
3. France - Swimming ( 4x100m Freestyle - M )
2. Benjamin Darbelet - Judo ( -66kg - M )
1. Fabrice Jeannet - Fencing ( Foil - M )

- Bronze Medals, JO 2008

17. Marie Delattre et Anne-Laure Viard Kayak biplace (500 m in lanes F)
16. Alexis Vastine - Boxing ( 64kg - M)
15. Gwladys Patience Epangue - Taekwondo ( 67kg - F )
14. Bausset/Charbonnier - Sailing ( 470 - M )
13. Mickaël Bourgain - Cycling ( Piste - Speed - M )
12. Guillaume Florent - Sailing ( Finn - M )
11. France - Rowing ( Quad - M )
10. France - Rowing ( Quad - bi - H )
9. Anthony TERRAS Shooting (Plateaux, skeet olympique - HM)
8. Alain Bernard - Swimming ( 50m Free style - M )
7. Teddy RINER - Judo (+ 100 kg - M)
6. Stéphanie Possamaï - Judo ( -78kg - F )
5. Hughes DUBOSCQ - Swimming ( 200m Breast Stroke - M )
4. Benoit Caranobe - Gymnastics ( General Comp. M )
3. Christophe Guenot - Lutte Gréco-Romaine ( 74kg - M )
2. Hugues Duboscq - Swimming ( 100m Breast Stroke - M )
1. France - Archery ( Team - F )


19/07/2012 - sandra_shevey said :

As a journalist I`d like to attend the opening ceremony launch at Old Billingsgate. Any chance of someone getting back to me?


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