Youth Olympics in Normandy: boxing events on the lands of Alexis Vastine


Youth Olympics in Normandy: boxing events on the lands of Alexis Vastine

Quarter-finals. At the Alexis Vastine sports park in Pont-Audemer, a fight pits France against Kazakhstan. The Normande Kaëlya Mopin, 17, European junior champion and hope of French boxing trained in Pont-Audemer, encourages her teammate in the ring. The world championship of Gymnasiades brings together at home, in Normandy, the young guard of world sport. 3,400 teenagers aged 15 to 18 wearing the colors of more than sixty nations. Until May 22, 20 sports are represented in 9 Normandy towns, with Pont-Audemer hosting the boxing tournaments.

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Every day until Friday, 45 fights are linked at full speed on two juxtaposed rings. If Pont-Audemer was chosen to host the men's and women's boxing tournaments, it is because the discipline is king in the city. The local PE teachers and their students are the main volunteers who make sure everything goes well. Their UNSS referent is called Thomas Péron. This PE teacher in Pont-Audemer salutes "indeed, a long tradition of boxing in Pont-Audemer, linked to the presence of a strong working culture".

Alain vastine and Kaëlya Mopin, 17 years old, European junior champion and hope of French boxing trained in Pont-Audemer. LP/Lou Boy

"They are young but we have a very high level together in Pont-Audemer", notes the trainer of the young boxer Kaëlya Mopin. “The Kazakhstanis really impressed me. The Chinese too." Alain Vastine is the father of Alexis Vastine, bronze medalist at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, who disappeared in a helicopter crash while filming a TV show. "I think a lot of him, he would have been proud to see all these young boxers parade in Pont-Audemer, he certainly contributed a lot".

The Ukrainian delegation causes a sensation

The common points of the 192 boxers of these Gymnasiades: these young people have not finished their schooling, are top athletes and future champions. Like the Algerian Abderhahmane Ben Are, 17 years old, including seven years of boxing. Just eliminated, he still relishes having been able, "for the first time, to participate in a world competition and to speak with all these boxers from all over the world".

School sports allow plenty of social encounters. “The more kids are physically active, the better they feel. They have a feeling of competence which is developing and inevitably this is reflected in the school environment, ”explains Frédéric Bost, deputy director of the National Union of School Sports (UNSS), organizer of the event. And sometimes, high level sport does not prevent you from having other dreams. Boxer Chirac Ionut, 17 and a member of the Romanian delegation, sees himself turning professional "while studying chemistry", his other passion.

Guest of honor, the Ukrainian delegation caused a sensation. His young boxers are good and their presence is symbolic. Vladyslav, 17, wrote "Peace on our land" on a piece of cardboard that he carries around the Gymnasiades: "At the start of the war, I went to Poland, then I joined a center where we training in a safe place in Ukraine, so that we can continue to participate in competitions. "And somehow, the young man continues his education in parallel ... "but on the Internet. »