How was your first hour in Barcelona since landing on Tuesday?
Estelle Enze Minko: All went well, we had a short trip, once, good! We arrived in Barcelona at the end of the day, time to settle down, and the evening passed quickly. We had a little free time on Wednesday to get our bearings, discover the hotel we’ll be staying at for the entire race, which is superb and centrally located, and then we leave for training at the end of the day. We were able to find the room where we would play all the matches (in Palau d’Esports de Granollers, 30 km north of Barcelona, editor’s note).
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On August 8, you won the gold medal in Tokyo. Here again to fight for a new title, what is the mentality of this team?
Enmi: The spirit is the same as every game in December. We have the desire, the determination and we are preparing to experience an international competition as important as any other. If we’re here, it’s because we want to get results and show that even after winning the Holy Grail – if we may say so – 4 months ago, we’re a team that knows how to re-mobilize and execute when needed .
It’s more difficult to restart the machine at the club. (…) There, fifteen days later, we could get a medal, so the challenge is still exciting
Ecstasy faded a little? Do you have time to savor it?
Enmi: Frankly, it went fast and we didn’t have much time to enjoy it. We barely had a week off after the Olympics and then we moved to the club very quickly, with other strong goals for most of us, especially the Champions League, which resumed earlier this year. But at the end of the day, this Olympic champion is something to savor every day. It’s there, it’s part of us, and we utilize many small departments.
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Wouldn’t it be too hard to perform a new task without having to start from scratch?
Enmi: It’s harder for me to restart the machine at club level because even if we play an important game like the Champions League, the game starts, but the most crucial part happens in April-May (starting the quarter-finals) , and thus the cutter match, editor’s note). It’s hard to restart long-term goals. But once, with the French team, starting tomorrow (the interview is on Thursday), we can get the medal in two weeks, so these challenges over two weeks, with results like this, are still exciting.
What continues to drive you to seek more titles?
Enmi: have together. When you’re going through strong emotions with a group of people, you want to recreate or relive certain things, it’s kind of like a drug after all! We wanted to get back together and recreate a new story with a lot of memories.
We have two great games [de préparation]. We are giving our all in this World Cup and that is invaluable
Amandine Leynaud and Alexandra Lacrabère in the Olympic champion category are gone (they have retired internationally), does it surprise you not to spend these moments with them?
Estelle Nze Minko and Amandine Leynaud with their gold medals
Credit: Getty Images
Five players with you in Barcelona did not take part in the Tokyo adventure, three of them will be playing their first international games (Granil, Tublanc, Ondono), is it important to bring some niaque too?
Enmi: It gives us freshness, yes. Like us, they are all girls with stars in their eyes, but we have more experience. These girls dream of winning championships, dreaming of living with the French team, wanting to share a great game, create something and be 100% involved in this adventure, so it feels good.
You won from two preliminaries against Hungary (33-28 and 29-28). What lessons have you learned from this?
2 years ago, in Kumamoto, you had a big disappointment (France left in the preliminaries, especially after losing to Korea and Brazil). Is there also a sense of revenge for this failed World Cup?
Enmi: We are not taking revenge, every game is different. At the same time, we’ve had some great things going on, whether it’s a silver medal at the European Cup or the Olympics this summer, so we’re looking to make more use of our last two games than Kumamoto, which is already starting to happen. Old after all. The team has changed more since this game, and I don’t even know how many players are no longer there today (9), but it’s not the same team at all. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen again, but it’s not something that motivates us more than that.
Angola is a team known for its physical strength. (…) we expect to be pushed
This World Cup is also guaranteed to be full-bodied, and the first round of the Grand Slam is waiting for you. How much do you know about the first three opponents you will face, especially Angola, against whom you will play in the opener this Friday (6pm)?
Enmi: It’s a bit of a “jerk” for the first group at the World Championship, to be sure. We have two teams in the top 10 in Europe, plus the best African teams, so the first round was tough. We know Slovenia and Montenegro well because they are the two teams we play regularly. We know that these are always ongoing battles, and it may play out one way or another, so we have to be vigilant. Angola is a team known for its individual qualities such as stamina, super power, speed and strength. So it’s going to be a very tight game to start the game with a lot of promises and blows. We obviously want to be swayed.
Estelle Nze Minko at the Tokyo Olympics
Credit: Getty Images
Did your experience in Japan this summer (near elimination against Brazil in the group stage) help you?
Enmi: Of course, after that we talked a lot about the start of the Olympic races, but you should know that we have the biggest hen again. We had a strong group, so we didn’t “cool off” in the first three games until the game against Brazil. It’s been tough and we’re giving it our all, so we’ll be there to do the same. In a sense, this will help us know what it’s like to find ourselves against a wall, and we don’t want to find ourselves in that situation, at least not so soon.
This tournament is approaching, what does the coach insist on?
Enmi: Nothing special yet, it will depend on the game during the game. But otherwise, he always asks us the same thing, to reproduce the effort. He told us that if we come here, it’s to get a result, we have to be ready to throw in, find our defense… We did a stat point at the Olympics, so we know what we’re aiming for for. necessarily tends to produce such a result.
We’ve been scared for a while, it’s not fun to play against France
Are you looking forward to being an Olympic champion?
Enmi: I don’t know if we’ve been more scared since we became Olympic champions, I think we’ve been in for a while and we’re in teams where opponents know it’s going to be tough. Playing against France is no fun, like playing against the three or four teams that have dominated in recent years, like Russia, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, doesn’t make anyone happy. The Olympics and who will come back with a bit of a problem because they have one game missing from their legs and, in my opinion, they have no Olympic ball. So they will want to show that they still exist. And then there’s Spain, which is at home and can be taken away by it. We played a European Cup in France and I know it’s a rare opportunity in my career to be able to play at home.The received team usually goes a long way, so you have to be careful
Enmi: It’s a matter of perspective. Personally, I’m not thinking about the 2024 Paris Olympics at all. Of course I want to be there, but it’s so hard to show myself. There, there’s the World Cup, then there’s the Champions League with Györ, then there’s the European Cup… At the same time, there’s a thousand things, we don’t play a game every 4 years. So at the moment, in my mind, there is only the World Cup.
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