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French Olympic athletes parade on Paris' Champs Elysees

Latest update : 2008-08-26

Hundreds of people paid tribute to French athletes returning from the Beijing Olympic Games on the Champs Elysees in Paris. The French Olympians will attend a ceremony with President Sarkozy at the Elysee palace.


Hundreds of people thronged the leafy Champs-Elysees avenue on Tuesday to pay tribute to the French Olympic team as it made its way to a special reception with President Nicolas Sarkozy.


Around a hundred of the country's sporting stars greeted the crowds from open-top buses draped in national flags, as the procession filed past the appropriately named Arc de Triumph.


"In China we were a little cut off (from the French public), but since our arrival at the airport on Monday it has been wonderful," said Christophe Guenot, who won bronze in Greco-Roman wrestling.


"I feel like I'm reliving the 1998 World Cup parade - but this time as a participant and not a spectator," he added.
Bronze medal boxer Alexis Vastine said: "I'm surprised by the reception and by the way people are shouting out my name.
"I thought that would the case for the handball team but I was really shocked when it was for me."
Daniel Narcisse, part of France gold-medal winning handball team, was delighted with the turnout.

"I think this spectacle will last a long time," he said. "We've won everything possible: the world champions, the champions of Europe and now Olympic champions."


The French heroes were scheduled to meet Sarkozy in the Elysee Palace at 18:45 local time (1645GMT), a government spokesman said earlier.


Sports Minister Roselyne Bachelot and Secretary of State for Sport Bernard Laporte will also attend the reception.

"The head of state will pay tribute to the participation of each at these Games and congratulate for their fantastic performances those who distinguished themselves," a statement from the Elysee Palace said.


It added that the French President "will show them the admiration and pride of the entire Nation for the great moments of happiness that they gave us throughout these Games".


The French Olympic team brought back 40 medals in total, seven of which were gold. They finished tenth on the Beijing medals table.


In 2004 in Athens France won 33 medals, including 11 gold to finish seventh on the medals table, and in Sydney 2000 they achieved 38 medals, including 13 in gold, to finish sixth.


Date created : 2008-08-26