The Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games will officially begin this Friday, with the opening ceremony. At 31, Samir Aït Saïd was appointed flag bearer of the French delegation with Clarisse Agbegnenou. On the eve of the big meeting, the gymnast confided his impatience at the microphone of RMC in the program Before Tokyo.
Samir, must you be excited on the eve of the opening ceremony of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, where you have been chosen as the flag bearer of the French delegation?
Yes, I am excited. It is a feeling of pride. I can’t wait to live this moment with Clarisse Agbegnenou, it will only be happiness.
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You have had two painful experiences with the Olympics. You had a triple fracture before the 2012 Olympics and then in 2016, with an image that marked the entire planet (he was seriously injured during the horse jump) …
I had to give up my place as finalist in Rio, I could not make this final because of this injury. I want to be on the podium this time, I know I have the capabilities. I invented a new figure that I will present for the Games. I am focused, focused and determined.
Do you think you are going to be overwhelmed with emotion?
No, because I know why I am here. I prefer to stay focused on my work, I will stay in my bubble. I train a lot and I do not scatter. I will be focused on what I have to do.
“I wish to bring a medal to my father’s grave”
There will also be an emotional charge, you lost your father and grandfather recently, but you became a father three and a half months ago. Does it add emotion to these Olympics?
Of course, I’ve been on a roller coaster ride. The loss of my father was a big blow to me. He was present in Tokyo and wanted to be present in Rio. It was my driving force. He started from an illness and you are never ready to lose someone, especially my father. That was it for me, I made him the promise to bring back this medal for him. I am going to fight and I wish with all my heart to bring him this medal on his grave. I have a mixed feeling, I am happy to be here but I am sad that my father is not here. There is no point in feeling sorry for yourself, crying or being sad. I am going to go to war for him, for all of my family who have helped me up during these difficult times. I have a little chip now, which is the love of my life. I will also go and get a medal for her, so that she can start these first months of life well.
Will this ceremony and the fact of representing the French delegation not be in all cases a form of reconciliation with the Olympic Games?
It is not because I am a flag bearer that I am going to come to terms with the Olympic Games like that. What will make me forget Rio is an Olympic medal. Flag bearer is good, it is a source of pride and immense joy, but I do not come to Tokyo to be a flag bearer. I come to win an Olympic medal. It is extraordinary to be both, but if I had to choose, I would gladly give up my place as standard bearer for an Olympic medal.
You will play big on Saturday with the qualifications where you will have to go on a single apparatus with the rings. You were European champion recently, two years ago, but since then because of the coronavirus you have hardly participated in competitions for two years ….
It’s a small handicap. My life is a roller coaster ride. Everything was fine and I had to blow my biceps in April. They started talking to me about the operation in April, I said that it was out of the question for me to pass on the table. Today I feel good and in good shape. I invented a new one so it is that I am here. I want to fart everything. I have an enormous rage to win, a thirst for victory. I am a patriotic person. I have only one desire: I so want to see this flag rise in this dome and sing the Marseillaise. Just talking about it gives me chills. I’m hungry, I want to represent my country at best. I struggled so hard, it was so difficult for me, that I said to myself ‘now it has to pay off’. I thought I fell more bar than the ground but saw that I could dig even lower.
“I want to end my career in Paris with a medal”
Coming back to the ceremony, this is bound to be special … You will be carrying the flag with Clarisse Agbegnenou, must it be a fabulous moment?
I consider her to be a sister. I’ve known her for so long, we went to INSEP together. He’s a war machine, I wouldn’t like to be his opponent. The poor one across the way, she will be in pain. She didn’t come to make friends.
A word also on the absence of public for the competition and the ceremony?
It does not matter. we must not forget that the Olympic Games were not even sure to be organized. We are going to make the most of the present moment. If we are there, it is already very good. After all the hardships, my partners in any case never let go. We’re going to fight for all these caring people.
Do you see yourself continuing until Paris 2024?
Of course, the question does not even arise. I want to stop my career in Paris. Anyway, we are in 2021, the Olympic cycle has already started. It is not possible to stop before. I’m a Parisian, I want to end my high-level career where it all started with a great medal.