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MARINETTE PICHON... INSIDE THE OLYMPIC TOURNAMENT!

Our technical partner Marinette Pichon shares her thoughts.

MARINETTE PICHON

Our technical partner and long-time goalscorer record holder for the French national team (with 81 goals), Marinette Pichon, was a commentator for France Télévisions during this summer's Olympic Football Tournament. She shares her thoughts on this unique experience.

Marinette, you were a commentator at this summer's Olympic Games for the third time after London and Rio. What did this competition represent for you?
It's the ultimate experience. The best of the best among athletes. Being able to participate in the Games is just incredible. I wasn't able to do it as a player, but even as a consultant it's a wonderful experience.

For the athletes, it means continuous training for four years - it's tough and demanding. It's really interesting to see all the different, sometimes surprising disciplines featured in the Games.

Do you feel any regret at not being able to play in the Games yourself?
No, because I decided to quit. I went through a whole process to come to grips with ending my athletic career. I wanted to do something else, focus on my family and have kids with my wife… I never felt that I wanted to be on the field myself. I was happy to watch the players and I'm a huge supporter of the French national teams.

MARINETTE PICHON
Marinette Pichon... Inside the Olympic Tournament!

With the current health situation, were you still able to enjoy the Tokyo Games and the different sports?
There were restrictions, but we did get to enjoy some of the other sports. I got to see Djokovic play, to see the first medal ever awarded for skateboarding, 3x3 basketball, water polo, the women's handball final, the sport climbing final... I was able to see a lot of things - it was great!

Did you still notice a difference with the previous Games, specifically in terms of the atmosphere?
Yes, this year's Games felt somewhat closed off. It was quite surprising. People seemed to want the Games but they weren't really expecting them to happen. The emotions were different. Even the victory ceremonies, it was strange for the athletes to be in an empty stadium. But the good thing about all that was that the athletes and coaches could communicate better and put their strategies in place!

What's the one thing you'll remember from these Games?
On the sports side, I'd say the bronze medal match between the US and Australia. It was one of the best meet-ups in the tournament. The players put on a great show. It was a real joy to commentate for that match.

Outside the sports, one highlight was visiting the Sensō-ji temple in the centre of Tokyo. It was a total immersion in the Tokyo culture and felt like time was standing still. 

Was there a team that really impressed you during the tournament?
I thought the Mexican men's team played really well. For the women, the UK and Sweden impressed me. I felt bad for them in the final, but the Canadian women really showed up when it counted. They didn't have an exceptional tournament, but they took home the gold!

Generally speaking, I thought this tournament symbolised the development of women's football. We saw greater stability, stronger teams, more technical skills and effort levels that weren't necessarily there four years ago. The level has definitely improved.

What can you say about the failure of the French men's football team?
I think there were two major reasons. First, Sylvain Ripoll wasn't able to put together the team the way he wanted. The refusal of some clubs to release their young players was highly detrimental. It's a shame when you see on paper what could have been for the French team.
Then, there was a lack of team preparation. The team barely had two weeks together to work out the kinks - that's not enough.
There's also the time difference and need to acclimate to the heat, which can be challenging. I also think some of the players weren't fully committed to the event. But luckily some, like André-Pierre Gignac, gave it their all. I do think the French team could have done worse though.

Marinette Pichon... Inside the Olympic Tournament!
Marinette Pichon... Inside the Olympic Tournament!

What do you think of the Olympic requirements for the men's football teams that all but three players must be younger than 23?
It's tough, but when you see the challenges some countries have in putting together their teams, it seems unlikely to have teams with all-star players. Unless the event is officially on the FIFA calendar, and the clubs don't have a choice. But it's true that doing so would lend more credibility to the Olympic Football Tournament.

What are your expectations for the Paris 2024 tournament?
I hope our women's team will be in top form! They'll get through qualifications, but I'm hoping they'll be at the level they need to be. It would be amazing to get a medal. But we know the competition - there's Sweden, who have improved, and the US are always a threat… We'll need to be ready!

Any last thoughts?
I'd like to thank my partner Kipsta. I'm really happy to continue working with you to develop the women's range and bring it here to Canada (Marinette is the Sports Director of the LaSalle Soccer Club, which has more than 1138 male and female members). With our gold medal in hand, things are looking up!

Thanks Marinette!
Interview responses gathered by Martin, our Community Manager!

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