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06/01/2014 23:00
France’s mentor Laurent Tillie draws the line after qualifying for 2014 Worlds
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Paris, France, January 6, 2014. After qualifying on Sunday for the Final Round of the 2014 FIVB World Championship, France’s mentor Laurent Tillie draws the line looking already forward to the next steps along the way to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“I have mixed feelings after this tournament” Tillie says. “I am a little frustrated after we lost the last game of the tournament to our neighbors from Belgium, which makes it difficult for me to express the joy I evidently feel for making it to the World Champs. We have achieved our goal and we qualified for the Worlds for the fourth consecutive time. However, there were moments during the match with Belgium where I started having some doubts and for this reason I opted for a few changes in our starting six. Nevertheless these moves did not help much and the general feeling was not that good.”

Tillie is particularly happy with the performance delivered by Nicolas Le Goff: “He was just superb and he was the man behind our victory in the fourth set via his service and block. Antonin Rouzier did also perform really strong and at the end he felt his arm heavy.”

The head coach knows the reasons for that defeat France suffered on Sunday to Belgium, an opponent they had beaten twice in recent times (in the Pool phase of the 2011 European Champs and also at the Olympic qualifier for London 2012). “I have the impression that we wanted to shine in this tournament and we felt the pressure. The night before we had played a perfect game with Spain, so we really wanted to play that good once more, to show again the same standards. All of a sudden things did not work the way we wanted and we got used to, so I could see my players looked frustrated. I nevertheless think that they performed quite strong because in spite of all the pressure and the problems I just mentioned, they were able to win two sets.”

Tillie looks forward to a busy but exciting 2014 season: “We know that we will compete at this year’s Worlds and we are also already qualified for the Final Round of the 2015 European Champs in Bulgaria and Italy. Our schedule also includes the World League which is due to start in May. So this means we are going to work with this group for another two years. However, I have my sight set on the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. If you want to qualify for the Olympic Games, you need to start your project and preparations well before the qualifying events. Every time France made it to the Olympics, the national team had performed really strong the two, three years before. This means that if we want to make it to Rio 2016, we need to perform strong in 2014 and 2015.”  

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