Mondial de hand – Gauthier Mvumbi: “I came back from Egypt with shining eyes!”

He was the unexpected star of the Handball World Cup, not very reluctantly. Gauthier Mvumbi, 26, has an extraordinary size (137kg at 1m95) in Congolese trials (28th) and Dreux (national 2nd or 4th league) and is now nicknamed “Shaquille O’Neal du Hand’ has really made a splash these two weeks. He returns to France this Thursday with stars and dreams.

Gauthier, what are your memories of this World Cup?
Gauthier Mvumbi:I came back to France with shining eyes and felt like I played handball again in these two weeks. The one I often see on TV. It truly is a total love and a real pride to find yourself on the pitch facing the best players in the world! I was also very happy with DRC’s first World Cup victory (32-31 over Angola).

When do you feel the buzz around you?
General Motors:
When my wife saw Shaq’s post on Instagram. Even before that, after DRC’s first game against Argentina, the Argentine media started calling me “El Gigante” (giant) everywhere. When I saw Shaquille O’Neal’s message, I said to myself: ‘Here we are touching the stars’!

Some of your comments are mocking at times. How did you react when you read them?
General Motors: I had a very good experience with them, taunt or not. I’m here to play. After that, people’s opinions become part of the game, whether positive or negative. If we’re talking about me, we’re talking about the Democratic Republic of Congo, so that’s a good thing. I am very happy with the adventure with my teammates and the Congolese country.

Did you pinch yourself when you saw the message Shaquille O’Neal gave you (“Hey, I heard you’re the Shaq of handball?”), do you still keep in touch?
General Motors:Yes, I still have a hard time believing it! This news…great. I have nothing to say… yes, we are still in touch. Excited to continue communicating with the legends of sports!

You end the game with a statistic of 23 shots 20 goals (87% success rate). satisfy?
General Motors:
Obviously, I’d rather play 23 out of 23 games, but I’m still happy with my minutes because I’m pretty much on the offensive end. In the future, I hope to be able to weigh the opposing defense more.

“I’m going from a very stressful month (…) to not being able to practice the sport I love”

Did you receive advice from professional clubs during this World Cup?
General Motors:
Yes, some clubs have come forward, including second-tier clubs abroad. But these are just conversations for now. In any case, I will follow any proposal. I’m all ears!

Aren’t you worried about going back to France because the health crisis still has suspended amateur tournaments, including the N2 tournament you played with your Dreux club?
General Motors:
Yes, of course…I’m going from a very stressful month between prep, training and the World Cup to not being able to practice the sport I love…so it’s very special. But I will do everything I can to stay active and healthy.

What do you think of the French team’s curriculum, which you developed with Nedim Remili and Hugo Descat at the Créteil training center?
General Motors:
I think the Blues are capable of going all the way, even if this year’s start against Serbia didn’t go well. They run really well. I’m very happy for Hugo (Descat), I’ve been in touch with him, he’s putting on a great World Cup.

Interview with Manu Roux

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