• Skier Alexis Pinturault makes his childhood dream come true

The French Alexis Pinturault with his big crystal globe after the giant slalom in Lenzerheide (Switzerland) on March 20, 2021. Fabrice COFFRINI AFP / Archives

On his thirtieth birthday, March 20, alpine skier Alexis Pinturault gave France its first Alpine Skiing World Cup victory in more than 20 years.

The Savoyard brilliantly won the "big crystal globe", which crowns the best skier of the season, by taking the victory in the giant slalom in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

Second in the World Cup in 2019 and 2020, Alexis Pinturault became the fourth French skier to win the title after Jean-Claude Killy (1967 and 1968), Michèle Jacot (1970) and Luc Alphand, the last, in 1997.

  • The tears of Mathieu Van der Poel and the second coronation of Tadej Pogacar on the Tour de France

Mathieu van der Poel raises his finger at the finish line of the 2nd stage of the Tour, in tribute to his grandfather Raymond Poulidor.

© Philippe Lopez, AFP

Crossing the finish line on June 27, he raised his finger in tribute to his grandfather, the cycling champion Raymond Poulidor, who died in 2019. The Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel therefore accomplished what his grandfather did. had never succeeded: winning at Mûr-de-Bretagne, during the 2nd stage of the Tour de France, and winning the yellow jersey. At 26, Van Der Poel made a resounding debut on this stage, beating the Slovenian favorites on the Tour by 6 seconds, holding him Tadej Pogacar and his runner-up Primoz Roglic.

The Dutchman kept the leader's tunic for six days before handing the yellow jersey to Tadej Pogacar during the first alpine stage, who finally won the Tour for the second year in a row.

Mathieu Van Der Poel did not complete the Grande Boucle in order to better prepare for the MTB event at the Tokyo Olympics, during which he finally gave up due to a fall.

  • At the Euro, Italy deprives England of a European title at home, France disappoints

Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini (left) and Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci (right) carry the European Championship trophy after Italy's victory in the Euro-2021 final against England in the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021. Andy Rain POOL / AFP

In front of the English public, Italy deprived, on July 11, the Three Lions of a major trophy that has eluded them since their victory in the World Cup in 1966. The Nazionale was able to return to the match after conceding an early goal , then won on penalties to win Euro-2021 (1-1, 3-2 tab). The road traveled has been immense for Squadra Azzura since the trauma of the failed qualification for the 2018 World Cup, a first for 60 years. Roberto Mancini then took over the reins of the team and built a machine to win and to shine.

Despite the return to the selection of Karim Benzema, France on the other hand left the competition early.

At the end of a breathless and undecided meeting until the end, Didier Deschamps' players bowed to the Swiss "Nati" in the round of 16 (3-3, 5 shots on goal to 4).

The reigning world champions, feverish in defense, went through all the states before laying down their arms.

  • Simone Biles' side step at the Olympics and the mental health of athletes

The American gymnastics superstar Simone Biles in full doubt at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, July 27, 2021. Loic VENANCE AFP / Archives

The announcement went like a shock wave. Expected superstar of the gymnastics events at the Tokyo Olympics, Simone Biles withdrew on July 28 for the individual all-around, then for the vault, uneven bars and floor finals. At 24, for her second Olympics, she admitted to being weakened by a loss of confidence and a phenomenon of loss of landmarks in space. Raised by an alcoholic and drugged mother, placed from an early age in foster care, she then came under enormous pressure as an early champion. In 2018, after years of silence, she also revealed to be one of the victims of former national team doctor Larry Nassar, convicted of sexual abuse of gymnasts.

Despite these difficulties, Simone Biles eventually competed in the beam event and won the bronze medal.

During these same Olympics, the Japanese tennis champion Naomi Osaka, big favorite of the competition who had also expressed mental problems during Roland Garros, for her part left the tournament prematurely, eliminated sharply in the round of 16.

Thanks to the voice of these stars, athletes now talk much more easily about their mental health.

  • Threats to Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya

Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya speaks with members of the Japanese police at Tokyo airport on August 1, 2021. REUTERS - ISSEI KATO

Outside the stadium, the case of the Belarusian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya shocked the spirits during the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

This athlete was threatened with being forcibly repatriated to Belarus on August 1, after having criticized her country's sports authorities during the Olympics.

Fearing that she would end up in prison if she returned home, she obtained help from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and police protection while at Tokyo-Haneda airport.

The sprinter has since taken refuge in Poland, which granted her a humanitarian visa, and wants to continue her sports career.

The IOC has announced that it has withdrawn the accreditations of two coaches from the Belarusian delegation.

The International Athletics Federation has also launched investigations against them.

  • French team sports on the roof of Olympus

The coach of the French volleyball team, Laurent Tillie, is carried in triumph by his players, after their victory in the final against Russia (3 sets to 2), on August 7, 2021 at the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2021. JUNG Yeon-je AFP

In 70 minutes, in Tokyo, France became Olympic champion in handball, then volleyball, on August 7, the day of glory for French team sports, despite the defeat in the final of the fallen basketball players, not without demerit, in the face of the inevitable Americans.

With two Olympic titles, a silver medal (men's basketball) and a bronze (women's basketball) in the space of twelve hours, to which is added the girls' silver in Sevens rugby and the gold gleaned by the handball players, the French team sport has achieved a spectacular and unprecedented harvest.

With 33 medals in total (10 in gold, 12 in silver and 11 in bronze), the tricolor delegation is certainly doing less well than at the Rio Games (42) and those in London (35), but still ranks as the eighth nation in the medal ranking.

  • King Messi arrives in Paris

The new recruit of Paris Saint-Germain, the Argentinian Lionel Messi, greets the supporters who came to cheer him on August 11, 2021 in front of the Parc des Princes, after his official presentation at a press conference.

Bertrand GUAY AFP

Two days after having formalized his departure from FC Barcelona, ​​where he had so far made his entire career, Lionel Messi signed, on August 10, a two-year contract, with an option for an additional season, with Paris Saint-Germain.

The 34-year-old Argentine star has joined his former teammate Neymar in the French capital.

Considered one of the best football players of all time, the Pulga is however slow to find his feet in his new club.

He has so far only one goal and four assists in eleven Ligue 1 matches. But thanks, in particular, to his first success in the Copa America this summer, he won, on November 29, a seventh Ball However, by voting ahead of the Pole Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) and the Italian-Brazilian Jorginho (Chelsea).

  • Afghan athletes exfiltrated in extremis for the Paralympic Games

Afghan athletes Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli upon arrival at Tokyo airport on August 28, 2021. AP

The Paralympic Games this year coincided with the capture of Kabul by the Taliban in Afghanistan and the emergency flight of thousands of Afghans in dire conditions.

Exfiltrated in extremis by several states, including France, after launching an appeal for help, two young Afghan athletes were able to reach Tokyo on August 28.

Although taekwondoist Zakia Khudadadi was able to compete, sprinter Hossain Rasouli arrived too late for the 100m heats, but he took part in the long jump competition.

Neither of them won medals, but they were able to live their dream to the end.

In particular, they marched carrying the Afghan flag at the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games.

  • A raid of medals for France at the Paralympic Games

The French Nicolas Peifer and Stéphane Houdet, gold medalists in the men's double wheelchair tennis, at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, September 3, 2021. © AFP

For France, these Tokyo Paralympic Games will have been abundant.

The tricolors completed the competition with 54 medals, including 11 in gold, 15 in silver and 28 in bronze.

The very last one was won by Lucas Mazur, just before the final clap, on September 5, in badminton (category SL4).

We will also remember the feat of cyclist Kévin Le Cunff, who won gold by winning in the road race (category C4-5).

In tennis, the pair made up of Stéphane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer also retained their title, as did table tennis players Fabien Lamirault and Stéphane Molliens.

With this total, France exceeded the record for the Beijing Games in 2008. Paradoxically, it only finished in 14th place in the general classification of nations due to its deficit in gold medals.

  • Novak Djokovic fails on final leg of calendar Grand Slam quest

The Serbian Novak Djokovic, in tears, thanks the public for his support, after his defeat against the Russian Daniil Medvedev, in the final of the US Open, on September 12, 2021 in New York, which deprives him of winning the Grand Slam.

Kena Betancur AFP / Archives

At the gates of the greatest feat of the Open era, Novak Djokovic failed. Beaten in the final of the US Open by the Russian Daniil Medvedev on September 12, the Serbian failed to join the very closed club of champions to have won the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the 'US Open over the calendar year. Rod Laver therefore remains the last to have achieved this performance on the men's side. It was in 1968, for the second time concerning him (1962), after the American pioneer Don Budge in 1938. Among the ladies, we must go back first to Steffi Graf (1988), then Margaret Court (1970) and Maureen Connoly (1953).

The Serbian champion also missed his Olympics by finishing fourth in singles and forfeiting the small final in mixed doubles.

However, he can take comfort in the many records gleaned this year.

In 2021, he clinched a 20th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, tying Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

He also became the record holder for weeks spent at the top of the ATP ranking, overtaking his Swiss rival.

He was also named for the 7th time player of the year by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

  • Julian Alaphilippe always in the rainbow

Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe celebrates his second consecutive road world champion title on the podium, September 26, 2021, in Leuven, Belgium.

Kenzo Tribouillard AFP

Julian Alaphilippe was crowned world champion in road cycling for the second time in a row on September 26 in Leuven, Belgium.

The 29-year-old Frenchman won solo after a decisive attack 17 km from the finish.

He is the first Frenchman to conquer two world titles since the first world championship in 1927. A rare feat: only seven riders have won a world championship title two years in a row.

Winner of the first stage and yellow jersey of the Tour de France at the beginning of the summer, Julian Alaphilippe signed in Leuven his fourth victory of the season, a year after his first world triumph at Imola.

  • Tunisian Ons Jabeur makes women's tennis history

Tunisia's Ons Jabeur during the quarter-final between Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka on July 6, 2021, at Wimbledon, England.

Adrian DENNIS AFP / Archives

Tunisian Ons Jabeur became, on October 18, the first tennis player from an Arab country to enter the World Top 10, after qualifying for the quarterfinals of the Indian Wells (WTA) tournament.

Her rise in the world rankings in recent years was already remarkable, but joining the best players in the world has taken her to the next level.

She was already the first player from an Arab country to reach the quarter-finals of one of the four major tournaments, first at the Australian Open in 2020 and then at Wimbledon in 2021. She was also the first player. from an Arab country to win a WTA title last June at the Birmingham tournament.

  • Biker Fabio Quartararo offers France's first golden helmet

The French Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo with his MotoGP world champion gold helmet in Misano Adriatico, Italy, October 24, 2021. Andreas SOLARO AFP / Archives

At 22, Fabio Quartararo made history on October 24, offering France its first world title in the premier motorcycle speed category, MotoGP. Fifteenth on the starting grid of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in Misano, Italy, Fabio Quartararo made an impressive comeback to fourth place.

Above all, he took advantage of the fall of his last rival for the title, the Italian Francesco "Pecco" Bagnaia (Ducati), who was at fault four laps from the finish when he was in the lead.

With 65 points ahead of the latter, "El Diablo" could not be reached in the drivers' standings before the last two rounds of the season.

This consecration comes in his third season in MotoGP, the first with the Yamaha factory team, after two years with the Yamaha-SRT satellite team.

Out of 16 Grands Prix contested in 2021, Fabio Quartararo won ten podiums, including five victories.

  • Peng Shuai case puts China in the crosshairs of the international sports community

Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai signs tennis balls during the final of the Fila Kids Junior Tennis Challenger in Beijing, China on November 21, 2021. This image of a rare public appearance is a screenshot obtained from from a video posted on social networks.

© Twitter account of @qingqingparis via Reuters

On November 2, Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai posted a lengthy text on the Weibo social network in which she accuses former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli, who from 2013 to 2018 was one of the most influential politicians. powerful people from China, for having forced her into a sexual relationship, before making her his mistress.

The message was promptly erased by Chinese censorship and the former world No. 1 in doubles did not appear in public for several weeks, causing concern in the world of sport, the UN and the United Nations. several countries including the United States and France. As international pressure mounted on China, Chinese journalists tried to reassure by posting images of Peng Shuai, but the authenticity of the documents had left the WTA, the world association for professional women's tennis, skeptical.

Peng Shuai finally said on December 19 that she had never accused anyone of sexually assaulting her and that the post she posted on social media had been misinterpreted.

Despite the champion's words, the WTA, which has suspended tournaments in China over concerns for Peng Shuai's safety, reiterated their fears for the player's well-being and called again for the opening of the tournament. 'investigation.

  • Antoine Dupont crowned best player in the world

Antoine Dupont during the friendly match of the XV of France against New Zealand, on November 20, 2021, at the Stade de France, in Saint-Denis.

FRANCK FIFE AFP / Archives

French scrum half Antoine Dupont, 25, was crowned best rugby player in the world on December 10. With his 35 selections, he is the third tricolor to register his name on the prize list of this distinction launched in 2001, after the former scrum half and current coach of the Blues Fabien Galthié, in 2002, and the former third row Thierry Dusautoir, in 2011.

This international recognition rewards a year punctuated by two titles with Stade Toulouse, in the European Cup and in the championship, and a prestigious victory with France, in November, against New Zealand.

The only downside is the disappointment of the XV of France in the VI Nations tournament.

Beaten on the edge by Scotland (23-27), on March 26, the Blues finally finished second in the final standings, behind Wales.

  • A final winning lap for Max Verstappen

The joy of Dutch driver Max Verstappen, after winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and clinching his 1st world title on December 12, 2021, ahead of the seven-time world champion, Briton Lewis Hamilton.

ANDREJ ISAKOVIC AFP

After years of unchallenged domination by Lewis Hamilton, Dutchman Max Verstappen became Formula 1 world champion on December 12, winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of his British opponent thanks to a pass on the last lap. At 24, he was crowned for the first time.

It was only the second time in the history of the discipline, after the 1974 championship, that the last two rivals came out at the start of the last race of the season tied on points: 369.5 precisely. Max Verstappen started with the advantage of pole position, but at the start it was Lewis Hamilton who put in the best take-off and took the lead in the first corner. But a departure from the track by the Canadian Nicholas Latifi (Williams) changed the situation six laps from the finish: by the time his car was clear, the race was neutralized, allowing the Dutchman to put on new soft tires and get back on track. to the Mercedes, to finally win on the final lap.

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