Brice Leverdez, 35 years old and multiple French badminton champion, flies to Tokyo to participate in his third Summer Olympics. A few days before the start of the competitions he confided in his debut at Maurepas, his career, his post-career, but also his ambitions in Tokyo, where he will start the competition on Saturday.
How did you come to badminton?
I took a first license at Maurepas because my sister had started playing in that club in 1998 and had quit during the season. I spent a large part of my youth in the south of Yvelines. I stayed at the club for five years, from 12 to 17, before leaving for INSEP. I learned badminton at this club and I have fond memories of it because I was the youngest of the team. My teammates in this club were much older than me and above all much more experienced, so it was really nice to play with guys who already had a certain level.
Did you enjoy the basics of the sport from the start?
In badminton, there is a lot of bluffing, it is a game of chess with the physical side. You have to remain lucid despite the strategies that you have to put in place, despite the strategies that the other puts in place, there is a whole process to be had and that is why it requires a lot of training and a lot of physical serenity to be able to perform.
The Tokyo Olympics will finally take place behind closed doors
You were for a long time the only Frenchman at the top of the world ranking. How do you cope with the emergence of new French champions?
The fact that we are four French tricolors in the world top 40 is great for the emulation that it can create around French badminton. The atmosphere is healthy and I think that will allow us to climb even further to the heights of the world rankings. I wish I had known this early in my career. It’s a shame, I could have been better I think if there had been other French people in the World Top 40. “.
How would you explain the fact that his talents took a long time to develop?
We’re one of the most popular sports in school, but PE teachers don’t necessarily know how to teach badminton and don’t necessarily know how to convey the passion to a student so that he joins a club.
The Olympic games start in a few days (this Saturday for badminton). What will your ambitions be?
Like every competition, the ambition will be to go as far as possible and if possible win. I’m going there with a lot of ambitions and I think it will be my last Olympics in the single man category. I’m going to play completely relaxed trying to find the level that allowed me to beat the best in the world. For Paris, in the current perspective, I have the ambition to go there in men’s doubles or mixed doubles, I have plenty of options on the doubles and so far, I haven’t made up my mind.
And after Paris 2024?
I find that the image of badminton has evolved over the years, but there is still a lack of real badminton courts. I’m on a project for my post-career badminton hall building. In France, there is hardly any. There are private badminton courts, but they belong to squash or tennis courts. It remains low-end. I want to create top-of-the-range land like you can find in Denmark or in Asia.