Lausanne, Switzerland, August 5, 2016 – France are experiencing their fourth Olympic Games, but were disappointed not to make it to London in 2012. For the current Olympic cycle, men’s coach Laurent Tillie brought in a new generation of players and set qualifying for Rio as their target.
But after capturing the FIVB World League title in 2015, their target has moved significantly and now France would be disappointed not to make it to the podium.
France start their campaign with a tough match against Italy on August 7.
Three key officials in the French Federation made their thoughts explicit in the French team’s media guide.
Eric Tanguy, President of the French Volleyball Federation: “Four years ago, our aim was to reach the Olympics. I think that there would be nothing more frustrating than going to the Olympics and putting on a substandard performance. The players have worked so hard to get there; it would be really disappointing not to perform at the level we know they are capable of. The goal is the podium, which would be a first in the history of French volleyball. Why not gold? We know that this team is capable. They recently beat all the big teams who will be in the Olympic Games, except for the United States; this means that it is feasible.”
Cyrille Boulongne-Ectouchenko, National Technical Director of the FFVB: “When we explained to everyone that our ambition was to send a team to the Olympics in 2016, the reception was a bit negative. Some thought we were just dreamers or thought it was just the conventional words of a federation to say that we should go to the Games. Personally, I have always believed because I knew we had a super-talented group that had the potential to go to the Rio Games. If I had to name one key moment for this team, I would say it was the semifinals of the 2014 World Championship against Brazil, which we lost. There was terrible disappointment for the players, but it proved to be a real mental turning point because the players used it to bring about some huge performances. As for the Rio Olympics, I think the competition is quite open. Many teams have the capacity to become the Olympic champions; the differences between them are slight.”
French coach Laurent Tillie: “We made the most of what we could in the World League [finishing third]. We were not in perfect condition, so the result was very satisfactory. We lacked a little consistency to do better – freshness and precision in the details in the semifinals against Brazil – but this second medal in the World League was a good result. There will be a lot of competition in Rio. For me, Brazil are the favourites, but there are many contenders: the United States, Russia, Poland, Italy. I think it will be a very good tournament. We know the difficulty of the task, but our commitment is to do everything to get on the podium.”