Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 16, 2016 – France’s Olympic dream ended at the hands of hosts Brazil on Monday. France, one of the favourites for a medal in Rio, finished with two wins out of five matches as Brazil grabbed the final spot from Pool A.
Coach Laurent Tillie and star player Earvin Ngapeth reflected on what happened and what might have been.
Laurent Tillie: “We really gave it our all, so there’s not so much to regret. We were up against some very strong teams and we weren’t able to defeat them. There was no margin for error and that’s something we need to fix; we’ll have to work on our blocking and service.
“Our late qualification for the Games meant that we were trying to hold on to what we had and go forward, but unconsciously we just backed off mentally. The reality is you have to be even more harsh and severe because the games in the Olympics are so intense. It’s very hard.
“The Brazilians were tired and under a lot of pressure, so it was difficult for them. They feared us a lot because they respect us a lot. I also found – and it was the same against the Americans – there were a lot of respect between players and coaches; this is of great value to our sport.
“You have to be mentally strong to accept [your fate] that life is unfair, and that, regardless of the work and commitment, there is no guarantee of success. But it's worth it to have experiences like that; it was really an amazing experience.”
Earvin Ngapeth: “Our regret is not about tonight; it’s regarding the first match against the Italians. Tonight, we gave everything, but stumbled against a team that I think will be Olympic champion.
“We were used atmospheres like [today], so it did not disturb us. On the contrary, it helped us stay focused and together. But we lacked a bit of imagination offensively.
“It's a shame. But never mind; that's sport. We have a very young group, so we’ll go away for four years and in four years we shall get a medal. We are disappointed because it's over, when we had big hopes, but we will go back to work for another four years.”