January 3, 2009

Thomas Bouhail: "I No Longer Have the Right to Lose"

A while ago we were complaining that the French media hardly seemed to pay any attention to the achievements of its male gymnastics stars. In the days following the World Cup Final, we could hardly find any French acknowledgement of Thomas Bouhail and Yann Cucherat's successes in the Spanish capital. But that, apparently, doesn't mean the French media aren't interested. They just save their praise for the year-end. And so we recently found a little story on Thomas Bouhail, who is well on his way to becoming a superstar on vault (check out the wonderful Tsukahara piked double back and Dragulescu he did in Beijing here). It was published by Le Nouvel Observateur on December 30th and doesn't contain much that is new, but still, it's nice to see some attention for Bouhail, who sounds ambitious. We like that.

Thomas Bouhail en route to a silver medal at the Olympics
(Photo: Amy Sancetta/AP Photo)

Gymnastics: Thomas Bouhail in a Hurry to Get Going Again

Having won the Olympic silver medal on vault in Beijing in August, Thomas Bouhail is impatient to prove his talent in 2009 with a view to becoming "a good all-arounder" for the London Olympics in 2012.

The 22-year-old gymnast from Sotteville-les-Rouen has the European Championships in Milan from April 2nd to 5th in his sights, followed by the World Championships in London from October 12th to 18th.

"In both cases, I want to confirm [that I'm a good vaulter], and not let up. Now that I have the Olympic silver around my neck, I no longer have the right to lose, especially if the Olympic champion isn't there. In short, whatever the competition, I'm not asking for the moon," Bouhail told Reuters.

On December 14th, Thomas Bouhail raised himself to the height of his new ambition by winning, in the absence of the Olympic champion Leszek Blanik, the World Cup Final in Madrid.

But from December 7th to 10th, this new small phenomenon of world gymnastics was celebrating in Courchevel, Savoy, with the French medalists of this season's Olympic Games and World and European Championships.

"My medal has literally taken me beyond myself. After the celebrations, I immediately had to leave for the World Cup Final. Now I can't wait to see the next season begin," he explained..

"Always to deserve gold"

"A born and thus insatiable competitor," Thomas Bouhail is counting on Sebastien Darrigade, a former gymnast who is now his national coach.

"He knows me by heart, knows how to hold me back or push me when necessary. Our collaboration brings me tremendous calm," he underlined.

His Olympic silver medal has given him wings. "Even if it sticks in my throat because I'm 90% sure I should have finished first," he says with regret.

(Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

At the Olympic Games, his young age hardly seemed to faze him in face of the experience of the Pole Blanik, who is in his thirties. Two months earlier, Thomas Bouhail himself had only been the French team's alternate for Beijing after suffering problems with his right shoulder from July 2007 to January 2008.

"That's the way it goes! And anyway, if I'm honest, before the Games I would have settled quite happily for silver or even for bronze. Nevertheless, I'll do everything in my power in order always to deserve gold," he warned.

European vice-champion on floor in 2007, Thomas Bouhail expresses his desire "to become a good all-arounder between now and London 2012."

Even if his shoulder is interfering with his movements on rings, he assures that he "can perform on the other apparatus despite the pain."

Regarding this new challenge, the native of Seine Saint-Denis concludes, "It's my heart's desire. And if I achieve it, I'll be thrilled with any medal, whatever its color."


  1. (TCO)

    USA needs to have some vaulters. I think all the athletes should do tow vaults. It is so weird. If Shawn were forced to have another vault, she wouldn't like it, but would be competitive to at least make EF.

  2. We concur. It would be great if all gymnasts could do 2 vaults. Obviously not everyone will be as good at both as vault specialists like Bouhail, but it would be interesting to see what second vaults people came up with.

    As for Shawn, we're curious as to what kind of second vault she'd pick. We honestly have no idea. Has she ever done a second vault? In any competition?

  3. (TCO)

    I doubt it. At this point, gymnasts training is really geared to Yurchenko and nothing but. It's why the event is so fu...lly boring. oh...look anothe Y2. That person only has a 1.5. a few have 2.5. And that's the whole damn event! I know Shawn doesn't have a second vault ready. but I don't care, force her. Of course, I think she may be done with gym.

  4. I wonder if Thomas Bouhail will become the next Benoit Caranobe. Chances are that won't happen and vault will still be his best event. Still, he can challenge Leszek Blanik this year at the worlds.

    Anyways, could you translate this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_l17r5Itqo)? Just the Russian parts will do. Thank you.

  5. TCO, women's vault has always been a relatively boring event. People always did throw the same vaults. We agree there are far too many Yurchenko-type vaults out there, but it's been like that for years. It's nothing new. At least they're not throwing Hristakievas, Phelpses, and Luconis anymore, like they used to! God, those were boring.

    Cidlover, we doubt Bouhail will become the next Caranobe, given his self-admitted problems on rings. But we definitely look forward to seeing how he'll develop over the next few years!