In particular European junior champion in mixed doubles and men in 2017, bronze medalist at the European Team Championships and gold medalist alongside Bastian Kersaudy at the Mediterranean Games in 2018, then bronze medalist in mixed doubles with Delphine Delrue at the 2019 European Games: Thom Gicquel already has a long list of achievements. But the latter does not want to stop on such a good path. As he told us during our recent interview. Extracts.
What made you want to take up badminton?
My parents practiced badminton as an amateur and they are the ones who transmitted this passion to me. With my big brother and my big sister, we discovered this sport during one of my parents’ badminton evenings and we actually liked it straight away. Behind, I progressed very quickly, because I was training with people older than me.
When I faced young people of my age, I often won, and inevitably when you win, you want to continue. When I was 10/11 years old, I entered the departmental collective, then around the age of 13/14 I joined the hope center of Dinard. When I got to high school, I went near Bordeaux to the France pole and I joined the France U17 team. And during my final year, I took over the management of INSEP and I have been there for 7 years now.
You participate in mixed doubles competitions alongside Delphine Delrue, what is your relationship with her?
We returned at the same time to theINSEP and we were kind of considered the two freaks of badminton. They made us play together and in fact it immediately stuck in the state of mind and in the game. We got results very quickly and we reached the top 60 in the world. After two years, we were champions of France, and today we are ranked in the top 10 worldwide (and even first pair of Europe).
Why did you favor mixed doubles rather than men’s doubles?
At the beginning I had a partner in men’s doubles which was Ronan Labar, but I quickly realized that I was more efficient in mixed doubles. And then Ronan is 33 years old and he is coming towards the end of his career. I wanted to devote myself to mixed sports to continue breaking records. On top of that, I don’t think I can find anyone better than Delphine.
“I think in the future there will be more media coverage of badminton”
What do you think of the media coverage of badminton?
The level of our sport is changing, but if we had Olympic champions we would obviously talk about it more. The culture of badminton is not very rooted in France so that does not help either. For comparison, Asians have been playing there for 30–40 years and they are the most populous countries in the world, so it makes sense that badminton is more publicized there than at home.
However, I think that in the future there will be greater media coverage, because we are starting to have results in all categories, especially among juniors. Afterwards, I am sure that the Paris 2024 Olympic Games will allow badminton to inspire young people to practice it.
Exactly, is qualifying for the Olympic Games your priority?
Not quite. I would especially like to be able to climb even more in the world rankings, to reach the top 5, that would be incredible. For the moment I am not yet qualified for the next Olympics, because I have to finish in the top 20 from March 2023 to March 2024 in mixed doubles. Now if I go there it won’t be to make up the numbers, but to get a medal.