Interesting Facts About Olympic Nations – France

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France is the birthplace of Pierre de Coubertin, who is the father of the Olympic Movement. This Frenchman was born on January 1, 1863 in Paris. Pierre once said, “The Olympic Movement gives the world an ideal which reckons with the reality of life, and includes a possibility to guide this reality toward the great Olympic idea”.

The Summer Olympic Games were held in Paris in 1900. For the first time, sportswomen were allowed to compete in the Olympics ( six tennis players ). France won first place in the Games with 26 gold, 41 silver and 34 bronze medals.

Marie-José Pérec was one of France’s greatest sportswomen. She was born in Guadeloupe ( Caribbean island ) and moved to France with her mother when she was sixteen. Marie-Jose became the second female athlete in the history of the Olympic Games to sweep the 200m and 400m ( Atlanta’96 ).

Like Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana and Reunion, New Caledonia -French territory in Oceania- is not member of the International Olympic Committee ( IOC ). Why? France does not allow its territories to compete in the Olympics. For this reason, New Caledonia’s athletes can not compete in the Olympic Games. Unlike Guam ( American territory ), Aruba ( Dutch territory ) and Bermuda ( British territory ), it did not compete in the 2004 Olympics. Ironically, New Caledonia has several famous sportspeople in the South Pacific. Aquatics: Olivier Saminadin, Thomas Dahlia, Thomas Chacun, Reine-Victora Weber, Lara Grangeon, Diana Bui-Duyet, Adeline Williams and Gilles Durnesnil. Archery: Laurent Clerte, Emmanuel Guilhard, Henry Shiu, Isabelle Soeno and Sylvena Plazenet. Athletics: Vaikula Elise Takosi, Candice Soulisse, Erwin Casser, Bertrand Vili, Eric Frederic, Bina Ramesh, Eric Revillard, Phoebe Wejieme and Daniel Kilamo. Badminton: Nicolas Martoredjo, Florent Mathey, Marc-Antonie Desaynoz, Johanna Kou and Cecile Sarengat. Boxing: Christophe Lestage, Ataale Gyan and Hannequin Benoit. Judo: Sandrine Perel, Kyo Lussaud, Melissa Kaddour, Stephane Courtine, Jonathan Berger, Cyril Chevalier, Paul Dulac, Abedis Trindade de Abreu, Vaea Chadfeau and Diane Hillaireau. Sailing: Chrisptophe Renaud, Alban Rossollin, Feri Malhieu, Michael Borde, Cawle Dabin and Paiscillia Poaniewa. Shooting: Theodore Tein Weiawe, Fabrice Azarro and Phillipe Sinoni. Table tennis: Frederic Quach, Laurent Sens, Maxime Bataihard, Ornella Bouteille and Alexandra Heraclide. Taekwondo: Annie Odino, Kevin Belhameche, John Trouilet and Arnord Sariman. Tennis: Julien Couly, Elodie Rogge and Nickolas Ngodrela. Triathlon: Oliver Bargibant, Stephane Lacroix and Benedicte Meunier. At the last South Pacific Games held in Apia ( Samoa / formerly Western Samoa ) in November 2007, it finished 1st among 22 countries and territories. Certainly, New Caledonia has won more international gold medals per capita than any other country of the South Pacific.

Paris hosted the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship in 1986. Final standings: 1.United States, 2.USSR ( currently Russia ), 3.Bulgaria, 4.Brazil, 5.Cuba, 6.France, 7.Argentina, 8.Czechoslovakia (currently Czech Republic/Slovak Republic), 9.Poland, 10.Japan, 11.China, 12.Italy, 13.Greece, 14.Venezuela, 15.Egypt, 16.Taiwan.

Jean Schopter became the first Frenchman to win the Roland Garros in 1892.

France send 243 athletes to the 1984 Los Angeles Games. It participated in 19 sports: archery ( 2 ), athletics (45), basketball ( 12 ), boxing ( 4 ), kayak ( 14 ), cycling ( 16 ), equestrian ( 11), fencing ( 20 ), football ( 17 ), gymnastics ( 9 ), wrestling ( 16 ), modern pentathlon ( 3 ), rowing ( 22 ), shooting ( 15 ), swimming ( 19 ), tennis ( 4 ), weightlifting ( 2 ), wrestling ( 8 ), sailing ( 12 ).

This European country won the gold medal in soccer at the 1984 Olympic Games in the United States.

France is the birthplace of fencing. Fencing was made part of the official program for the Olympics at the 1896 Athens Games.

Paris has hosted the Summer Olympics in 1924. There were 3,092 athletes from 44 countries who competed in 19 sports: athletics, aquatics, boxing, cycling, diving, equestrian, fencing, gymnastics, modern pentathlon, polo, rowing, rugby, sailing, shooting, soccer, tennis, water polo, weightlifting, wrestling. France came third with 13 golds, 15 silvers and 10 bronzes.

Eunice Barber is one of the most famous athletes in France. She was born on November 17, 1974 in Freetown, Sierra Leone ( Western Africa ), the world’s poorest country. Eunice says, “I was fortunate to grow up in Sierra Leone, an English-speaking African country where sport is very present”. For political and economic reasons, she moved to France when she was 18 years old. In the 1990s, Sierra Leone had one of Africa’s bloodiest civil wars. More than 70,000 Africans had been killed and 150,000 had left the country. Under the banner of Sierra Leone, Eunice finished fifth in the heptathlon competition at the 1996 Olympic Games in the United States. For many sportswriters and experts, her Olympic performance was amazing. Three years later, she become a French citizen.

Top performances:

1999: European Cup-1st heptathlon

1999: World Cup-1st heptathlon

2003: IAAF World Championships- 1st long jump, 2nd heptathlon

2003: European Cup-1st long jump

2003: IAAF World Athletics Final-1st long jump

2005: IAAF World Championships-2nd heptathlon, 3rd long jump

2005: IAAF World Athletics Final-4th long jump

2006: European Cup-2nd long jump

Eunice’s favourites:

Movie stars: Julia Roberts, Sharon Stone, Demi Moore

Music: From French to pop music

Hobbies: Theater, cinematography, music, reading

Fashion designers: Issey Miyake and Jean Paul Gautier

Music artists: Celine Dion, Withney Houston, Wyclef Jean.