This weekend the final run towards Olympic qualification will start. Men's Foil (individual and team) starts off with the Challenge Internationale de Paris (CIP). The link to this event which promises "live" coverage is here.
The FFE web site has an interview with Stéphane Marcelin, MF French National Coach which may be of interest.
Stéphane Marcelin - "France Team Foil found again its spirit"
Three days before the start of 2012 CIP we talked with Stéphane Marcelin, men's foil national coach.
DG: Can you remind us of the context and challenges of the 2012 CIP?
SM: It is the first of eight international events of the 2012 season and it takes place in France.
DG: You go to competitions in many countries. Is the CIP still the best major foil competition in the world?
SM: This event has a history (the Martini Challenge and Fabergé), it was won by the best foil fencers of past generations. It takes place in Paris with an organization which could inspire many foreign organizers and attracts a large audience of connaisseurs which we cannot see in any other country.
DG: What are the objectives of the French foil fencers competing at the 2012 CIP?
SM: They have been preparing seriously for this rendez-vous. They must have confidence in their ability to deliver the best of themselves, show the "winning" spirit, fight for each bout to advance as far as possible.
DG: Between Erwann Le Pechoux, winner of the 2011 edition and Maxime Pauty, a promising junior, there's a huge difference, don't you think?[*]
SM: When he was a junior, Erwann also participated in the CIP. Today they certainly don't have the same goals. If Erwann is the leader of French foil in 2012, I wish Maxime to be the future leader of France's team foil.
DG: What is the interest/reason to allow young fencers like Maxime Pauty to compete [in an event like the CIP]?
SM: To build the foil national team of tomorrow we must allow young people to gain such experience in the top elite category. And for his goal in the junior season Maxime will gain confidence for the upcoming competitions in his age category [junior].
DG: For the time being, Men's Foil is the only weapon qualified for the Olympics in London. What's your first reaction to this?
SM: Right now we are not yet qualified ... I would say that we have a better chance.
DG: What will you add and what do you need to keep and fine-tune for this qualification?
SM: We don't even mention the qualification. Our goal is to prepare for the upcoming competitions to be able to fight fiercely against the top teams and trust in our foil team to be proud to win these events which will take place around the world. I leave the analysts and hidden detractors to their shameful and unfounded ramblings. France's team foil found again a spirit and that spirit is to fight to WIN!
DG: Wouldn't a qualification for London pass through a victory in the team event this coming Sunday?
SM: The goal of this weekend, either individually or in teams, is to get the best results. The definition of high performance sport is to prepare for and enter competitions to win... not to qualify!
DG: The team lined up for Sunday is that which got silver at Worlds in Catania (Sintes, Le Pechoux, Marcilloux, Guyart). Is this the best team of the moment?
SM: They demonstrated at the European and World Championships that their team spirit, their togetherness, their fighting spirit, their mutual trust can be an asset for the performance. They earned these medals. Up to them to prove that they can repeat these performances.
DG: What is the ideal team for you to go to the London Olympics?
SM: That which can bring back the gold...
DG: How would you "promote" the 2012 CIP to encourage our readers to come support the French this weekend?
SM: To come and support four guys and to share with them the day of victory, and that they will not forget these joyous moments of the most beautiful foil competition of the world...
Interview by Denis Goran
[*] In France, it is almost unheard of for any fencer to compete in a higher age category. When it happens the French establishment and the rest raise their eyebrows... Why him and not me or another one? etc. etc....