France’s Olympic team returned home on Tuesday where they received a hero’s welcome at the Elysée presidential palace in Paris after winning a total of 42 medals – 10 of them gold – at the Rio Games.
The athletes arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport earlier on Tuesday, greeted by dozens of cheering fans.
France won 10 gold, 18 silver and 14 bronze medals in Rio, making this Olympics its most successful since the 2008 Beijing Games.
Later in the day the Olympians were received by President François Hollande at the Elysée Palace.
Judo legend Teddy Riner, who won his second gold medal at the games, expressed his excitement at being welcomed home by the president.
“It’s also a reward to have the opportunity to be received at the Elysée, it was hard-earned. Thanks to the chief of state for bestowing us with this honour,” Riner told reporters.
The record eight-time world judo champion had gone six years undefeated before beating second-ranked Hisayoshi Harasawa of Japan on penalties in the final match of the +100kg category in Rio.
He also took gold in London in 2012 and bronze in Beijing in 2008.
Riner has now won his last 58 matches at European championships, world championships and Olympic Games combined in the +100kg category.
Estelle Mossely, the first French woman to win a gold medal in boxing, was also at the Elysée alongside her fiancé, boxer Tony Yoka, who won gold in the men’s super heavy (+91kg) competition.
“It’s an incredible feeling, we’ve made it, we’ve come back with two gold medals … We are proud to have represented France at its best,” Mossely said.
“We didn’t think we’d both be here at the Elysée,” Yoka added. “In 2012 I didn’t come because I was frustrated. I hadn’t won a medal and I told myself I would return in four years with a beautiful medal.”
"It's incredible, this story," Yoka said after his gold win on Sunday. "We dreamed about competing in the Olympics as a couple. And we dreamed about winning medals, or even gold medals. And now we've done it. Incredible."
Yoka said that he had received strict instructions from Mossely before the match.
"Estelle just said: 'I've done my job, you do yours'. It was my turn. I couldn't fail,'" he said.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2016-08-23