Canoeing: not qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, Denis Gargaud denounces “psychological doping”

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Jules Bernardet sighs, a little bitter. “I have a poster of Denis Gargaud in my room since his Olympic gold medal in 2016. His words were not easy to digest. The 19-year-old céiste is currently in Ljubljana, Slovenia, preparing for the next round of the World Cup.

Sportingly, he is on a cloud: this weekend, he achieved excellent results during the Olympic selections in Pau. Jules Bernardet gained momentum: sixth, second then first in C1 (single-seater canoe). But, by a complex bonus system, it is the Charentais Martin Thomas who will go to the Tokyo Olympics, which must take place in the summer of 2021.

“I learned about the rules before the start of the selections,” smiles Martin Thomas, who will defend the French colors in Tokyo. I had a lower bonus than Denis Gargaud and Cédric Joly, who started the competition with the equivalent of a victory. The rules were written in black and white and we all signed off at the start of the week. “

“There is a lot of density, especially in the men’s canoe”

Last March, Denis Gargaud believed he had been selected for the Tokyo Games. But the Federation says it said the process could be “revised” if the Games were postponed. The frustration of Denis Gargaud, regular but never winner at Pau, can be explained by this change in selection method.

“It’s unheard of (since 1944) but we reacted quickly by setting rules in June to restore serenity,” assures the national technical director Ludovic Royé. He also recalls that the selections for the Olympic Games often cause a stir in the microcosm of French canoeing: “There is a lot of density, especially in men’s canoeing”.

Hence the anger of the losers. Because Denis Gargaud is not the only one disappointed. Cédric Joly, reigning world champion, had to do two days of surfing in Lacanau for ” [se] to boost morale between Pau and Brittany. “In a blank voice, the 25-year-old céiste believes that” these bonuses were not gifts, because they gave feelings of injustice to our competitors. “We feel mentally exhausted by six months of” very complicated “preparation.

” It is not fair “

Denis Gargaud is the most upset: “It’s not fair to compete against people who don’t have the same stake. It’s psychological doping! “For the thirty-something,” a young athlete came to referee a match in which he had nothing to gain and nothing to lose. And he finished first in the last heat. “

The reigning Olympic champion, who wonders if his sponsors will continue to follow him, is in any case impressed: “He was very strong, he blew everything up! The young céiste is one of the revelations of the weekend, with Lucas Roisin, 23, also winner of a race. “It’s crazy to tell me that I was close to being selected for the Games,” smiles Jules Bernardet. The poster in his room will in any case stay hung: “I understand Denis. It’s normal that it is very hard for him to manage. “

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