Mélanie De Jesus Dos Santos
The French gymnastics federation has named the four women who will represent the country at the 2020 Olympic Games today, following last week’s national championships and a final trial held over this weekend.
Mélanie De Jesus Dos Santos, a seven-time European medalist who also represented France at all three world championships over the quad, will headline the team alongside 2016 Olympic beam finalist Marine Boyer, 2019 world all-around finalist Aline Friess, and 2021 European floor finalist Carolann Heduit.
Both De Jesus Dos Santos and Friess skipped out on last week’s national championships, where Heduit took the title while Boyer finished second. De Jesus Dos Santos has been playing it safe with the leg events this season, so it’s unclear how she’s looking on vault and floor right now, but she was always going to be a top contender for the team regardless of whether she could get these events back to a high level or not. Her bars and beam have potential to both help the team and also qualify for individual finals, and if her vault and floor are back to normal, she’ll also be one of the top all-around threats.
Friess, who has been dealing with a knee injury and had surgery late last year, returned to competition at the Ukraine International Cup in May, where she won the all-around title with a 53.750 after falling twice on bars. The national team coaches also seem to be taking it easy with her right now in order to preserve her much-needed vault (she has a really strong Rudi) and floor for Tokyo, thus allowing her to sit out at nationals. But based on how she looked in Ukraine, she was clearly a frontrunner for this Olympic team with key strengths that are pretty much irreplaceable.
Both Friess and Heduit were the standout new seniors this quad, and though Heduit regressed a bit at first due to injuries that held her back and kept her from making the worlds team in 2019, she now looks stronger than ever, with a Yurchenko double on vault as well as a super difficult bars set, and typically solid routines on beam and floor. Boyer, meanwhile, has been one of the most consistent gymnasts for France over the past five years, and she will graduate from the baby of the team in 2016 to now the veteran of this Tokyo squad.
The reserve athletes for the women’s team are Coline Devillard and Célia Serber. Devillard, known for her big potential on vault, wasn’t able to show readiness on the other three events, though if an athlete does need to be subbed in, her vault score would still be valuable regardless of how everything else looks. Serber, meanwhile, finished third all-around at nationals, just a few tenths behind Boyer, and though she lacks difficulty across all of her events, she’s a lovely performer with generally clean and solid outings.
Also invited to this weekend’s trial were Sheyen Petit, Morgane Osyssek, Taïs Boura, Maewenn Eugene, and Alizée Letrange-Mouakit, though Letrange-Mouakit is still coming back from an injury and withdrew from the final selection after only competing bars at nationals.
Article by Lauren Hopkins