The French Paralympic Team: small in numbers but huge in success!

Monday, 14 march 2022

The relatively small French Paralympic Team performed magnificently during the fortnight, as did the admirable team from Ukraine.

A small team that achieved great results! The French set off for Beijing with a relatively small yet extremely select team of athletes. This is the policy adopted for the French Olympic Teams by Claude Fauquet when he was appointed the national technical director of the French swimming federation. For a great many years, French athletes had failed to obtain significant results in this discipline at the highest levels worldwide. It was then decided that the French swimming team would be reduced in size and, when competing in major international events, would only include swimmers who had previously demonstrated their ability to qualify as finalists and, consequently, to be in a position to win medals. The idea was that no athletes would attend just to make up the numbers; the minimum requirements for qualification were extremely high. This is how the French Olympic swimming team started to enjoy a series of outstanding results in the 2000s. Similarly, the French Paralympic Team, made up of only 18 athletes this year, won no fewer than 12 medals: an outstanding ratio! 

The French team’s pluck and determination

When the winter games in China came to an end, the French Paralympic Team had won a total of twelve medals, more than half of which were gold (considering that French athletes brought home a total of 7 gold medals from Beijing). Arthur Bauchet, just 21 years old, won three gold medals. Benjamin Daviet, who carried the flag for the French Paralympic Team, lived up to his prestigious role by taking gold in the cross-country sprint and silver in the relay, to the effect that he has already won a total of 10 Olympic medals in the course of his career, half of which are gold! We should also emphasize the fact that Marie Bochet brought her sporting career to an end after a few setbacks with falls but still managed to win a superb silver medal in the super-G event, thereby ending her outstanding career in the French Paralympic Team with 9 medals, 8 of which are gold.  

Thanks to these excellent results, the French Paralympic Team came in 4th place in the medals table, the same ranking it achieved four years ago in PyeongChang in South Korea but winning fewer medals this time (they won 20 four years ago). But the French nevertheless outperformed the United States, which ranked 5th despite coming first in 2018. It was China that took the top spot by a large margin, winning no fewer than 61 medals including 18 gold, an incredible achievement for a nation that had previously only won a single medal in winter Paralympic sports. Ukraine claimed 29 medals including 11 gold. We should, however, admire the brilliant achievement of the Aigner family from Austria: Veronika won two gold medals in two days, guided by her sister Elisabeth, while her little sister Barbara claimed silver and bronze. Their younger brother, Johannes, just 16 years of age, won 5 medals all by himself! All in all, the family won a total of 9 medals, 4 of which were gold. That’s a better performance than a great winter sports nation such as Norway (7 medals) and represents half of the titles won by the entire Canadian team, which came in 3rd position just ahead of the French Paralympic Team, which put up a magnificent performance during the 2-week games.