Victor Wembanyama: “Any other result than gold would be a failure” at Paris 2024

This week, all eyes in world basketball focused on Mies, the Swiss town where the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) is headquartered

Victor Wembanyama: “Any other result than gold would be a failure” at Paris 2024

This week, all eyes in world basketball focused on Mies, the Swiss town where the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) is headquartered. All ? No. In Texas, the French phenomenon Victor Wembanyama did not follow the group draw for the Paris Olympic Games live on Tuesday March 19. But the young San Antonio Spurs interior quickly took notice.

“We have a potentially trap group,” notes the Frenchman, interviewed Thursday at the brand new training center of the Texan franchise by some French media in San Antonio – including Le Monde. But these are the Olympics: if we want to go far, we will inevitably have to play against the big guys. » If the Blues could not fall against the big American favorites – due to a complexity of the draw preventing the host country from facing the outgoing Olympic champion –, they nevertheless suffered from the recent German world champions, Japan, as well as the winner of the Olympic qualifying tournament in Latvia (Latvia, Georgia, Philippines; Brazil, Montenegro, Cameroon).

These Olympic Games at home, like many athletes, "Wemby" often "dreamed" of them in front of his TV, he who keeps fond memories of the epic of the French women's team, silver medalist in London in 2012. “When I was a child, my goal was to participate in the Rio Olympics in 2016 with the French team,” he assured during the All-Star weekend in mid-February.

If he already has a few capes under the blue jersey (in November 2022 and February 2023), the Paris Olympics (from July 27 to August 11 for the basketball tournament) will be Victor Wembanyama's first major meeting with the French team. And the person concerned is salivating in anticipation of being in the spotlight, after having missed the last World Cup. “I have an idea of ​​the mark I want to leave. I want to make history with big goals and soon with big achievements,” assumes the ambitious Spurs rookie, undoubtedly among the most anticipated Tricolores, with swimmer Léon Marchand and table tennis players Alexis and Félix Lebrun.

Working “non-stop until the Olympics” after the season

Silver medalists at the last Olympic event in Tokyo in 2021 before the disaster in Jakarta (Indonesia) and this elimination in the first round of the World Cup, the Blues are aiming for first place at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. “Any other result than this first place would be a failure, since we could have done better. You shouldn't have any regrets but it's a very achievable goal,” explains the 2.24m player, without losing his confidence.

The idea of ​​facing the “Avengers” team announced by the United States – a string of stars, attracted both by the City of Lights and by the idea of ​​restoring the star-spangled flag after a failed World Cup – does not frighten hardly Victor Wembanyama. “I much prefer to face their best team than their 2 or 3 team. Facing them in the final or in the group: for me, it’s the same. »

One month before the end of the regular season, synonymous with the end of the season for his San Antonio Spurs, the Frenchman says he is “satisfied with [his] progression and [his] learning because it is easy to stagnate”. Author of a very accomplished first year individually (20.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.5 blocks in 29 minutes), despite a disastrous collective record (15 victories and 54 defeats), the he former Metropolitans 92 player will arrive in Olympic form at the Games.

A rise in power over the months that coach Vincent Collet, his former coach at Boulogne-Levallois last season, views favorably. “Since the beginning of January, it has been in constant progression in terms of overall production,” confirmed the Normandy technician just after the Olympic draw on Tuesday. He does more and more things on the pitch and is more and more a passer and involved in his team's play. These are necessarily interesting things for the French team. »

Before really looking ahead to Paris 2024, Victor Wembanyama will take a few days off after the last match of his first NBA season against the Detroit Pistons on April 14. Then he will make a detour to Dallas to work “non-stop until the Olympics” with his individual coach, Tim Martins, before crossing the Atlantic. And to make his debut in official competition with the blue jersey.