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France’s young talent, a growing threat to the reigning stars  
Date: 4/8/2021 3:46 PM
Published by : Sara Gonzalez Martinez

All eyes are set on the Race to Tokyo, with the huge international event being just around the corner. We now enter months of huge anticipation despite the uncertainty cast by the pandemic. Still, we can’t help but go beyond and wonder, what will the next years that lead up to the 2024 Summer Olympics bring for the French side?

  

If there is one thing for sure in sports it’s to never underestimate the power that a team has. When having a closer look at the last few tournaments, especially when competing as a group, it is quite evident that France is a force to be reckoned with. Their home-grown talent is the country’s new weapon, and the youngsters have been a huge breath of fresh air both in their national scene and in European and international competitions.


The Popov brothers, securing the spot among men’s singles veterans  

Brice Leverdez, Toma Junior Popov and Thomas Rouxel are men’s singles powerhouses, pushing strong and pressuring the Danes who occupy the top spots in the European ranking. But when looking into the future, it is the brothers Toma Junior Popov and Christo Popov who come up as strong contenders to replacing Denmark as the continent’s leaders. Toma, who is now 22 years old, has demonstrated time and time again that even the most well-established players should fear him, and winning his second Super 100 title just last month is an indication of what’s to come. As a young player, it is extremely important to learn not just from the wins but also from the defeats, and Toma reflected on this after his loss at the 2021 Swiss Open.

  

-Not the best tournament that I ever played, I had the opportunities but I didn't take them. Now it’s time to learn from my mistakes and be ready for the upcoming tournaments.

  

It is this ambition that might get him to improve even further his far from deceiving results, and perhaps allow France to get its hands on a medal in the 2024 Summer Olympics. Similarly, his brother Christo has managed to impress Europe and the world with show-stopping performances in the most recent events at just 19. The next four years will most certainly bring good things for them and could set France on a safe route to a men’s singles medal.

  

Gicquel and Delrue, France’s safest chance to medals in the near future  

Although being just 23 years old, it could be said that it is just a matter of time before Thom Gicquel and Delphine Delrue secure an important win for France at the Olympics. Their position at both the European and World rankings confirm that they are a strong and successful team, and their remarkable performances and absolute confidence have made even the most experienced fear the young pair. Upon earning the top prize at the Swiss Open, Gicquel thought they showed who’s best.

  

-We really wanted to win this one and prove that we are the best pair in Europe, and I think we showed that this week.

  

This week we learnt that the reigning double European Champions, Chris and Gabby Adcock, will not be in Kyiv to defend their title at the 2021 European Championships. Read more about this announcement here

 

Despite the unfortunate circumstances, this is a major plus for the French duo as the only time the pairs played, the Adcocks took a comfortable win at the Korean Open in 2019. The other English pair, Marcus Ellis/ Lauren Smith, ranked number eight in the world and top in Europe, hold a 3-0 head to head against Gicquel/ Delrue and maybe the largest hurdle between them and the gold.  


However, flying high on recent form, the French combination would back themselves of overturning their 2019 European Games semifinal defeat to Ellis/ Smith and find their way into the final battle for the ultimate prize – to be officially crowned the best in Europe!  


If there is something France has shown in the last couple of years it’s that they have introduced some of the finest homegrown talents into the European and international landscape, with a talented bunch of youngsters looking to make the next big step in their careers and many of them having already done so. There is a good chance that, in three years time, we might hear La Marseillaise with French players standing on badminton’s Olympic winner's podium.  

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