“Before, we were fighting for a podium and finishing fourth or fifth. Now we are aiming for first place. » Laura Tarantola, like her teammate Claire Bové, assumes this change of status with complete serenity, when it comes to leading the tricolor delegation to the European Rowing Championships, which take place until Sunday August 14 in Munich.
A year has passed since their historic silver medal in Tokyo, the first for a French female crew since 1996. But the image remains of a mad race concluded at the photo-finish, the final verdict releasing strong emotions. “A euphoria that every time you think about it, goes up”, summarizes Claire Bové. A rare happiness, which the tandem of the lightweight double scull promises above all to relive in 2024 in Paris. Because they feel stronger, more united, and their experience is not for nothing in their determination to conquer gold.
An obstacle course
It is true that they have known, ups and downs, the two young rowers, to get there. After the Rio Games, Claire and Laura (now 24 and 28 years old) threw themselves into the next Olympiad, performing well from the start. And probably too enthusiastic. In 2018, the overtraining syndrome catches up with Claire Bové, forced to disembark for several months to recharge her batteries. Laura Tarantola could in turn be brooding, but the French Rowing Federation offers her a personal challenge: the individual world championships.
It’s new to her, but she’s giving it a try. And wins the planetary title in lightweight single sculls. This unexpected success inflates the morale of the champion. When the pair are on the attack again, in 2019, the two are overflowing with envy. The qualification in Tokyo acquired, the pandemic again comes to break the momentum. The relaunched machine is a backache at the start of 2021 which handicaps Laura this time. Two months without rowing a stone’s throw from the Games. It starts again, but the Covid falls on Claire.
“We got through all of this together, making great progress in communication, says Claire Bové. At the beginning, we were teammates without really hooked atoms. Today we are true friends. » Both have learned a lot from this extended Olympiad. “The path is not always clear, but we now know, for the two years remaining before Paris, that we will always have solutions, judge Laura Tarantola. When we resumed last January, it was catastrophic. But we were there for each other. Our tandem goes far beyond the simple sports association. »
Pleasure above all
The two medalists took advantage of the post-Olympic period and the whirlwind of solicitations. Summary by Laura Tarantola: “We played the game thoroughly. » So as not to regret anything, and not to miss the opportunity to finally talk about their discipline – too rarely on the front of the media scene. Claire Bové even had the surprise of becoming the muse of the famous jeweler Mauboussin. The tandem was also able to land a sponsor. “The medal opens doors, but contracts do not fall from the sky, shade Claire Bove. You have to scratch at doors and persist. » Make the medal bear fruit, “I thought it would still be easier”, lets go of his teammate.
It’s said without too much frustration, but with a hint of regret for the low return on investment. Whatever. The gold, they will seek it in Paris, in 2024. How to be even better? Laura: “By having more fun, our common engine: faster gliding, the quest for the perfect gesture and technique against our rivals who rely more on power. » There is a certain aestheticism in this research. Clear : “It’s all in the details in our category, where we all stick to a pocket square. But, this time, we also have our experience. We have grown in mind and in heart. »
They also have an additional motivation. The weight categories will disappear after Paris 2024. Suffice to say that their size (less than 57 kg required) will hardly be seen in the boats. All the more reason to end on a high note.