Kaylia Nemour, a 16-year-old French national champion who changed her nationality to Algeria last year due to issues with the team doctor refusing to clear her for competition, has finally gotten the approval she needs to move forward with representing the country internationally following a lengthy battle that almost cost her a ticket to worlds.
The national espoir all-around, bars, and floor champion in 2019 and the uneven bars champion in 2021, Nemour consistently outscored many of the French senior national team gymnasts at a young age and seemed on track to make the Olympic team for Paris 2024. However, in 2021, Nemour developed osteochondritis, a joint condition in her knees that required multiple surgeries and nearly a year away from the sport.
Although her personal doctor cleared her to begin training and competing again in 2022 following eight months of rehab, the French national team doctor – who had never examined her – refused to release her, leaving her career at a standstill until she and her coaches realized her Algerian-born father could open the door for her to change nationalities, a process they began looking into last spring. While she got approval for her change-of-nations request from the International Gymnastics Federation on July 23, the French federation refused to release her, meaning Nemour would have to wait a full year before she would be eligible to represent Algeria internationally at FIG-sponsored competitions, including world cups, continental championships, and world championships.
Though her release date would make her eligible to compete at this year’s world championships, all of the qualifiers were scheduled for the spring, including all four world cups, which were held between February and April, and the African Championships, which are scheduled to begin May 26. Missing the qualifiers would mean missing worlds, and with worlds the key qualifier for next year’s Olympic Games, it meant Nemour’s options for making it to Paris were limited to just the few remaining spots available at the world cups and continental championships in 2024.
Despite being restricted from major international competition over the past 10 months, Nemour was able to represent Algeria at the Arab Championships, where she won the gold medal on bars and helped Algeria take the team title, and she has continued gaining experience representing her club in France’s Top 12 league series, posting the top score on bars at three of the four meets this season, and helping her club to victory at the Finals two weeks ago.
Returning to competition after a lengthy absence was only half the battle, however, and during this time, Nemour and her family were been fighting the French federation to release her in time to compete at the African Championships. The federation had previously released two gymnasts – Farah Boufadene in 2015 and Janna Mouffok in 2018 – to begin representing Algeria without any waiting period, making their decision to keep Nemour in limbo seem weirdly personal.
And there’s a good chance it was personal – if not against Nemour, then against her club. When the federation introduced the 2024 Olympic Project – an initiative that would require Olympic hopefuls to leave their clubs and begin training at INSEP or Saint-Étienne in the lead-up to Paris – the head coaches at Avione-Beaumont were outraged, and tried to fight back against this new rule. The club’s star athletes – Nemour along with 2020 Olympian Carolann Héduit – wanted the freedom to choose to train where they felt comfortable, but the federation threatened to take away their funding and not consider them for Paris if they refused to move.
There was a simple solution to Nemour’s problem – all French federation president James Blateau had to do was write a letter to the FIG asking to remove the year-long hold and giving her permission to compete again, but he and the federation refused to cooperate, essentially making Nemour and her Olympic dreams collateral damage in the federation’s drama with her club.
But in the wake of a television program where six former French national team gymnasts came forward about their abuse during their time as members of the national team, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, the French Minister for Sport and the Olympic & Paralympic Games, announced that she would open an investigation into the allegations, and demanded a meeting with Blateau and national technical director Kevinn Rabaud, which took place today. In addition to discussing the investigation, the meeting opened up a discussion about other situations currently affecting athletes in the French program, including the federation’s fight with Avoine-Beaumont and its decision to keep Nemour from moving on with her career.
As a result of this meeting, the federation finally acquiesced, officially releasing Nemour to Algeria effective immediately and allowing her to compete at the continental championship meet just 10 days from now. With one of the most difficult uneven bar routines in the world at the moment, Nemour is on track not only to qualify for world championships and the Olympic Games, but also to fight for medals in Antwerp and Paris.
Article by Lauren Hopkins
14 thoughts on “Nemour Given All-Clear to Represent Algeria at African Championships”
In fact Kaylia did not change her nationality: as her father is Algerian, she had dual nationality. She was competing for France, and wanted to compete for Algeria, which was possible precisely because she already had Algerian nationality.
She originally had her FIG license under France. When you switch to compete for a different country, the form you submit is called a change-of-nation request. So no, she did not literally change her nationality, but for the purposes of international competition, her change-of-nation request changed her nationality from French to Algerian.
There’s a difference between citizenship and FIG-registered nationality. Kaylia is a dual citizen of both France and Algeria, but you can only compete internationally for one country at a time. She was registered with FIG to compete for France, and was prevented from changing that registered nationality to Algeria. That’s what this mess has been about.
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Thanks for the additional explanation here!
The French federation unblocked the situation because last Sunday, French public television broadcast a terrible documentary. Several gymnasts of the French national team, now retired, testified about the physical and psychological violence they had suffered. That made a lot of noise in France.
Yes, I talk about that in my second-to-last paragraph, and how that broadcast caused the Minister of Sports to demand a meeting with the FFG president and technical director. At the meeting, they also discussed other issues currently affecting the French program, which includes the FFG’s fight with Avoine, as well as Nemour being restricted from competing for Algeria.
May I ask if you remember the name of this documentary is by any chance? I’d love to be able to see it.
The program was on Stade 2, you can watch it here but have to create an account:
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THANK GOD. SO relieved for Kaylia and also for Carolann – hopefully this will get the federation to leave them TF ALONE so they can train in peace.
I know…it just makes NO SENSE why the federation would want to not have two of its most talented gymnasts at their HOME OLYMPICS but hey, their loss with Kaylia. Carolann has been looking incredible as well and I don’t know why they’d want to uproot her and potentially affect her by forcing her to change her coaching situation. And also, why doesn’t this apply to Melanie DJDS, who is allowed to train not only outside of INSEP/St. Etienne, but in the USA?!
Maybe with that link you dont’have to create an account
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There is now an inquiry by the French government.