"It's a bit of our medal": the French volleyball team qualifies for the 2020 Olympic Games

The Blues won against the Germans 3 sets to 0 (25-20, 25-20, 25-23), in the final of the qualification tournament, in Berlin, on January 10.
The Blues won against the Germans 3 sets to 0 (25-20, 25-20, 25-23), in the final of the qualification tournament, in Berlin, on January 10. JOHN MACDOUGALL / grouvysport.com

French volleyball players outclassed Germany on Friday (January 10th) in Berlin, qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Despite the renunciations for " personal reasons " (Stephen Boyer), despite absences from injuries (Thibault Rossard, Trévor Clévenot), despite sores (Julien Lyneel, Kévin Le Roux) which limited rotation, Laurent Tillie's men overcame all obstacles on their way to the Japan.

Read also The way of the cross for French volleyball players towards Tokyo 2020

It’s on this point that Mr. Tillie insisted during his pre-match talk broadcast by the channel The Team to motivate his troops.

"This is the match we all expected, and no one bet on. And you're still there. So we're going out, warm up, look the guys in the eye. Hold, hold, hold, hold to the end and for us. "

On Friday, in the final of the Olympic qualifying tournament, the last competition that only delivered a ticket to Tokyo, his men overpowered the German hosts, even in a third set dominated by their opponents, but overthrown in the "Money time".

Jean Patry, tricolor revelation

The Blues have completed the matter in three sets (25-20, 25-20, 25-23), notably worn by a very good Jean Patry, a real revelation on the tricolor side of this mini European championship and author of 14 points, best French marker.

And as often with this French team, Earvin Ngapeth tightened the game, to set the pace. Quite a symbol, it was he who killed all suspense on a last ace, to then receive the "daruma", Japanese papier mache figurine symbolizing the qualification for Tokyo 2020.

By winning against the Germans 3 sets to 0 (25-20, 25-20, 25-23), the Blues qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in Berlin on January 10.
By winning against the Germans 3 sets to 0 (25-20, 25-20, 25-23), the Blues qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in Berlin on January 10. JOHN MACDOUGALL / grouvysport.com

Laurent Tillie, in tears for long seconds on his bench after the protocol ceremony, made strong choices for this final, leaving captain Benjamin Toniutti, regular passer for almost eight years with the Blues, on the bench, preferring Antoine Brizard , breathtaking.

He also left his son Kévin Tillie on the bench, to get him into the last moments of the meeting. Decisions identical to those which had tipped a semi-final against Slovenia on Thursday.

Clear the carioca failure

Because the Blues had largely opened the way to the strength of the arms, defeating the European champions Serbian in the first match for the group stage, then Slovenia in the semifinals in an anthology match.

In Tokyo this summer, the band in Ngapeth will want to forget the carioca disillusionment, an elimination from the group phase when they arrived in Brazil with a title of European champion in 2015 and a World League 2015. A Brazilian failure which they kept in memory throughout the Olympiad.

This qualification, which seemed highly improbable Thursday when the French were led two sets to zero in the semifinals by the Slovenes, comes a few months after a disappointing fourth place at the Euro in France.

"Despite the disappointment, we got back on track after three months. We wanted so much to go to Tokyo, it seemed impossible with all the little problems we had. To succeed in qualifying is simply incredible (…) it's kind of our medal ", savored Laurent Tillie.