Two and a half years ago, French volleyball changed for good. Long seen as an outsider in most major international tournaments, the country’s men’s national team shocked the world by taking gold at the Tokyo Olympics and definitely earned its place among the elite of the sport.
The golden generation of Earvin Ngapeth, Antoine Brizard, Jean Patry, Jenia Grebennikov and Barthélémy Chinenyeze had given signs of greatness a few weeks before the Games, taking bronze at the Volleyball Nations League 2021, but even they were impressed with their victory in the Japanese capital.
“Going into the Olympics, we thought about winning a medal, but we didn’t expect gold,” setter Brizard recalled in an exclusive interview with VBTV. “We played really well in the VNL before the Olympics and that made us believe that we could achieve something good in Tokyo, but winning was a different story. It’s a feeling I never expected I could have, I can’t even explain it. It changed my life. I feel that each of us who were in Tokyo, we’re all connected as Olympic champions.”