Changing of the guard on the men’s side?
His technical programme based on a schoolboy theme encountered a few hitches and facing the media his face resembled that of a teacher’s pet who had suddenly been scolded. “I had a hard time getting into this technical programme. I hope to turn things around tomorrow. I would never make excuses but I have to admit that my back has been hurting since yesterday. But that is sport, there are ups and downs. Clearly today was a low point. I don’t care about the final score but I just want to compete well. It was the most inconsistent technical programme of the year so I’m obviously disappointed,” he said. Davy Delaire, head of the French national team, was more equivocal discussing his young prodigy’s performance: “The only thing that interests Jacques is perfection. He doesn’t settle for anything less and every weakness is corrected. This technical programme was difficult, we were apprehensive about it. It is both technically and artistically demanding. Our vaulters are without a doubt less flexible than the Germans, for example. Yet, nothing is set in stone. During the last world championships I believe – if memory serves me correctly – that the first three boys were all within 11/1000ths of each other. At such a high-level competition, it is always really close and if Nicolas and Jacques continue to work hard, the title should be a family affair,” he said with a smile.
Nicolas Andréani is still in second place in the provisional ranking and also occupies the same spot in the technical programme: “It was really emotional, I think my test was a success in terms of the marks but also on a personal level. It was the last time I performed my Marcel Marceau mime routine. The French mime deserved a stage like the Zenith to go out on. I had a blast. I am so pleased every time just taking to the arena. Being my third WEG, I think it will be my last games.” A warrior, the horse approached this test with the utmost class. According to his lunger, Marina Joosten Dupon, the horse “is just a saint who will keep fighting to the end and he showed it again today. He trots out willingly; there is no need to coax him out. He stays remarkably well concentrated throughout the programme.”
First place went to the German Erik Oese whose needle and push-ups were remarkable. The fourth youngest competitor, Lambert Leclezio, at only 17 years of age and hailing from Mauritius, received a standing ovation from all spectators in the vaulters’ box. At the conclusion of a battle that is sure to be a lot tighter than yesterday’s, there is little doubt that the entire arena itself will stand and cheer tomorrow to crown the world champion.