The Olympic coronation put their surnames and their faces on the front of the stage. They are called Antoine Brizard, Jean Patry, Trévor Clévenot or Barthélémy Chinenyeze. A month after the crazy Tokyo adventure of the French volleyball team, they continue to leap, land, block and spike with victory pinned to the body at Euro 2021. Thursday, September 9, against Estonia, the Blues signed (in 3 sets to 0) a fifth success in five group matches.
Alongside the executives present for ten years in the French team – the thirty-something Earvin Ngapeth, Benjamin Toniutti or Jenia Grebennikov – this generation has taken on more and more importance within the collective. In the final of the Games, against the Russians, Trévor Clévenot (27) was dazzling. Same thing for Antoine Brizard (27 years old) and Jean Patry (24 years old) who settled in the six of the holders. Arrived after the Olympics, the new Brazilian coach, Bernardo Rezende, has maintained this confidence since the start of the European Championship.
“I took my first steps in 2015. Little by little, my generation made its mark. I took more playing time as I went, until these Games where my status changed, simply tells Trévor Clévenot. It just happened naturally. I’m just trying to play my volleyball. ” Jean Patry also assumes this change: “Like Antoine [Brizard] and others, I no longer consider myself a young person. My role has changed and I am more important. More is expected of me, he explains. But I don’t put more pressure on myself. I minimize it, I relativize and I take pleasure. In general, it works in the field. “
The “sharp” (attacker) of the Blues dates this mutation of additional players into major players: for him, “Something was created” during the Olympic qualifying tournament in Berlin in January 2020. “The young people, who were less used to playing, played very well. It brought us together. We had been in this group for four or five years. We have evolved and progressed. “
“I had the image of a fish”
Ex-coach of the Blues, Laurent Tillie had attempted this bet of renewal after the tricolor ambitions had crashed in the first round of the Olympic Games in Rio. “I put these young people in incubation, hoping that they bring. Finally, this generation did it beyond our expectations, he notes. It takes patience, courage, giving them time to mature, make mistakes, come back and not put pressure right away. “
Whoever stayed in Japan for a new adventure on the bench of a local club uses a culinary metaphor to describe this successful entanglement of generations. “During the qualifications for the Mondial, in Lyon, in 2017, in front of the capacity of the new ones to perform immediately, I had the image of a fish, he describes. The central ridge is made up of the frames and the young people came to nestle there like fresh flesh to form a body. “
At the Euro, a new generation, like Théo Faure (21) or Moussé Gueye (24), has joined the group of Olympic champions. Like an incessant passing of the baton. “Each time, things are going really well in this team. After a week, everyone is well integrated and let’s go. There are no clans of generations ”, confirms Trévor Clévenot.
In the French jersey since 2011, Jenia Grebennikov deciphers this process: “In the French team, there are arrivals and departures. We are a family. When they arrive in Blues, they are players that we already know. And we are not very complicated [sourire]. As long as the person is motivated, in a good mood and wants to progress… ”
The experienced libero passes on a little of his experience in order to avoid the possible inconveniences of devolution. ” Jeans [Patry] exploded in January 2020. Trévor took on a new dimension at the Olympics. They are in incredible shape. We felt it at the start of the summer. But two years ago we played with Stephen Boyer and not Patry, he warns. They have to find and keep that stability that everyone is looking for. They are so consistent and concerned that I think they will go a long way. “
Despite Olympic gold, the hardest part may be starting. “You have to take responsibility, start in the field and stay there. You have to last over time ”, confirms Laurent Tillie. First stage of this challenge from the knockout stages of the Euro, Monday, September 13, against the Czechs. The latter had taken the French out of the Euro, in 2017, at this stage of the competition and will play on Monday with the support of their Ostrava audience.