Tokyo (AFP)

The flag bearer of the France team and rings specialist, Samir Aït Saïd, arrives Monday in the Olympic arena in Tokyo with the firm intention of getting on the podium and thus exorcising the Rio Olympics, where he was broken leg.

This time, "I'm not leaving on a stretcher but with a final!", He had blurted out with joy on Saturday at the end of the classifications, where he placed third with 15.066 points, taking down high hand his place as a finalist.

The night before for the opening ceremony, he had allowed himself a little joke in mondovision: a back somersault on entering the Olympic stadium, at the head of the French delegation, alongside the other standard bearer, judoka Clarisse Abgégnénou.

She has since won the gold which was missing from her record and Samir Aït Saïd will do everything to imitate her, he who is "hungry" for victory.

He pawns impatiently: "The tiger wants us to open the cage for him," his trainer Rodolphe Bouché told AFP this week.

In front of him, the reigning Greek Olympic champion Eleftherios Petrounias, the Chinese Liu Yang and, in ambush, the Turkish Ibrahim Colak.

Samir Aït Saïd who trains in Antibes is thirsty for revenge.

He had not been able to go to the London Olympics due to an injury.

And in Rio, he suffered a double tibia fibula fracture when he landed a jump in qualifying, with his leg straight, under the eyes of the whole world.

- "Fight against myself" -

A year later, he resumed competition.

In 2019, at the Worlds in Stuttgart (Germany), he snatched bronze and qualified for the Tokyo Games.

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There is no doubt that he will have in mind his father, who died after Rio and to whom he had promised to bring back a medal from Japan.

But also his daughter, born at the end of March, which gives him "extra strength".

Everyone recognizes him as a "warrior" mind, in addition to exceptional physical qualities.

Injured this winter to a biceps, he did not compete, had to briefly stop training and lost more than 10 kilos to arrive in Tokyo sharpened.

His jagged career has attracted the sympathy of the sports community, since he was appointed flag bearer of the France team to everyone's surprise.

A follower of combat sports, he has integrated boxing and Brazilian ju-jitsu into his preparation.

He has not yet taken up MMA (mixed martial arts) which he is also fond of.

In the final of the rings, it will be "a fight against myself", he explained to AFP in early June.

"It doesn't matter who I'm facing whether it's a Greek, a Chinese, a Russian, I don't really care, I'm going there to do my job, represent France and make it shine," said he.

If he climbs on the podium on Monday, it would be for the French gym a first medal since London in 2012 where Hamilton Sabot won bronze on parallel bars.

© 2021 AFP