After a little break, next up in the 2021 Olympians series is Loris Frasca, a 25-year-old who will compete as an individual for France next summer, qualifying as an all-arounder after his team missed out by just over a point.
Like every gym kid ever, Loris’ mother signed him up for gymnastics when he was a kid because he was hyperactive and couldn’t stop jumping around the house. He started training at a club in Forbach, and it was here where he not only fell in love with gymnastics, but was also traumatized by it. After falling “violently” onto his stomach from the high bar, he said he realized just how dangerous the sport can be, as well as the importance of learning to fall.
Loris, third from left, with the Forbach boys in 2007
Loris was first named to the national team in 2010, when he was 15 years old, and it was then that he left Forbach – and his home in the Lorraine region of France – for Pôle France Antibes on the south coast, between Cannes and Nice. He wasn’t one of the standout juniors, and it would take him until his senior career before he’d start to get some international attention. But with a ton of power and speed, he worked toward improving on his best events, floor and vault, hoping that someday, it would all come together for him.
In 2015, Loris finished second on vault and fourth all-around at France’s national championships, and he was also second on vault at nationals in the weeks leading up to the Olympic Games in Rio. With tremendous depth on the French team that quad, however, Loris – just 20 years old at the time of selection for both teams – wasn’t one of the top choices for either the world championships or the Olympics.
Of course, this was a big motivator for Loris going into the next quad, and as a few of France’s top men retired post-Rio, Loris quickly rose to the top of contention for international opportunities. In 2017, he won his first national title on vault (in addition to the bronze medal on floor), he made his major international debut at the Paris Challenge Cup that autumn, where he finished eighth in the vault final, and he also made his world championships debut, where he qualified 19th on vault.
The next year was even better for Loris, who repeated as national vault champion in addition to winning the bronze all-around medal. He went on to help his team to the bronze medal at European Championships that summer, where he also finished fourth on vault, he won vault at the Paris Challenge Cup and took bronze on the event a few months later at the Cottbus World Cup, and at worlds that year, he showed improvements, qualifying 12th on floor and 15th on vault.
The 2018 European Championships team bronze medalists
Loris came into 2019 hoping to help the French team qualify to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, and he attended the world cups in Baku and Doha to get a bit more experience, though he didn’t medal at either. At Euros, he looked great in the all-around competition, finishing ninth, though he missed the vault final, coming up short on his Dragulescu after hitting his kaz double.
At nationals, Loris not only took his third straight vault title in a row, but he also won the floor title in addition to silver medals on pommels and rings, and more importantly, he won the first all-around title of his career, giving him a major boost of confidence going into worlds, as did his vault title at the Paris Challenge Cup a few weeks prior to Stuttgart.
Loris had perhaps the best all-around performance of his career at worlds, all in the hopes of helping France qualify to Tokyo. He finished 28th all-around with an 81.598, the same score as American standout Sam Mikulak, and he delivered clean performances on all six events, including on p-bars and high bar, which are always his weakest (he still fears high bar after that scary fall as a child). He also brought his A-game on vault, hitting strong attempts on the kaz double and the Dragulescu to average a 14.483, finishing 10th to become the second reserve for the final, just 0.083 back from getting in.
He pretty much could not have done better than he did in Stuttgart, and the team overall counted 18 hit routines after scrapping a couple of falls in the four-up three-count qualifications format. However, this was a team made up of several specialists along with a couple of lower-level all-arounders, so there were lots of difficulty holes on key apparatuses – like p-bars and high bar – and while the team was clean, they had no way of surviving with a level of difficulty that low, and in the end, they finished 14th, a little over a point back from qualifying.
Loris did qualify, however, thanks to his excellent work in the all-around, and his teammates Cyril Tommasone and Samir Aït Saïd also made it through the pommels and rings finals, respectively. Loris also got a last-second opportunity to compete in the all-around final after South Korea’s Kim Han-sol withdrew, and in the first worlds final of his career, he finished 18th with an 81.864, improving a few tenths on his qualifications score days earlier.
Qualifying to the Olympics at Stuttgart in 2019
This is the first time since 1992 that France won’t send a men’s team to the Olympics. The men are disappointed, and Loris thinks that despite his own goals – making the all-around final and of course, the vault final, where he’s hoping to upgrade to a kaz 2½ – competing for himself in Tokyo will be less exciting than it would be to score points for a team.
But still, the Olympics have been a dream for Loris since he was a little boy. In Forbach, there is wooden sign engraved with the names of Lorrainers who have gone to the Games, and Loris would stare at it every day, hoping to one day see his own name engraved. Now, in a year, it will be.
Article by Lauren Hopkins