Stuttgart (Germany) (AFP)
At the Rio Games, his shock injury had shattered his Olympic ambitions in an instant. Three years later, at the end of a complicated season, Samir Aït Saïd, in the World Final of the Rings on Saturday in Stuttgart (Germany), has his qualification for the Olympics 2020 at hand.
For the first time since the 1992 Olympics, French gymnasts failed to qualify as a team on German apparatus.
It is therefore individually that they must make the necessary to be of the trip to Tokyo next summer. Loris Frasca has already made it through the open competition. To pocket his ticket in turn, an imperative for Ait Said (29 years): to rank among the top three of the five contenders for these precious Olympic ses sesames in the final of the rings (the other three entered are members of teams already qualified) .
His chances would be rare in the extreme otherwise.
- "Everything is played" there -
"Everything is played tomorrow (Saturday), because at the level of the World Cup (per apparatus, which will qualify a maximum gymnast per apparatus, ed), it is very closed and it would be very difficult to be able to qualify, even almost impossible, "considers his coach Rodolphe Bouché.
"If the qualification is not there tomorrow, it's over," he dares.
But since his horrendous double fracture open tibia fibula that had left his right leg at the receiving end of a jump in the 2016 Olympics, those of 2020 are the goal that drives the specialist rings, quadruple European medalist but still never global nor Olympic on this apparatus. This was the case the day after his injury, hardly operated; it has not left since.
But after a non-qualification for the world-2018 on federal decision that he has not "digested", Aït Saïd has lived a season "very complicated".
The gymnast from Antibes first had the pain of losing his father at the beginning of the year.
"I preferred to put my foot down on training to stay close to him until the end, it was a very complicated time, I had a lot of things in my head, I slept very little at night," he says. he to AFP.
"And once I buried my dad, the competitions came right after, I did not have time to blow as I would have liked to go all the way back," he says. "
- For his father -
"But I'm going to fight for me, for the French team, for my family and obviously for my father who left and who followed me in competition," promises the 2013 European champion of the rings.
Aït Saïd was also confronted with "financial worries" when, in March, he stopped working as a physiotherapist, cumulating with the gym since he graduated in 2017, to "focus on ( his career".
"I was in the office from seven o'clock until four o'clock, and I had time to train only in the afternoon, it was a big day, and I trained only once. not enough to claim medals, "he says.
Until December, help from the French Federation (FFGym) and via the performance pact "fill the gap". And after ? Aït Saïd hopes that this extends until the 2020s to be able to "(s') serenely lead" but nothing is certain yet.
Year in, year out, he reached two continental finals, at the European Championships (6th) mid-April, with only "two months of training" and sizing at "70%", then at the European Games (5th) 2 months later.
"There was clearly no results I expected, but with a lack of preparation, two finals (European), it's quite promising and encouraging," he says.
Where is he today, who finished third in qualifying (14,700) on Sunday? "Not 100%," he admits, but "determined as ever" and "conqueror": "I do not want to do figuration at all."
© 2019 AFP