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08/04/2020 11:00
Tillie likely to lead les Bleus at Tokyo 202One

Luxembourg, April 8, 2020. The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics until the summer of 2021 means that many athletes and coaches have had to change their (life) plans – and some have had to do so quite dramatically. Players planning to retire after the Games of the XXXII Olympiad may now extend their career for another year – just like USA Volleyball star Jordan Larson. Even coaches are reshuffling their plans accordingly. Laurent Tillie was due to leave the French national team after the 2020 Olympics, had these gone ahead as planned, but now it seems likely that he will continue his work until next year instead.  

Tillie announced earlier this year his intention to quit les Bleus after a long spell that started in 2012. He was due to focus solely on his work for a Japanese club, the Panasonic Panthers. “I have an agreement with the Japanese club [to retain both roles]. The President of the French Volleyball Federation, Eric Tanguy was very clear and gave me the Federation’s consent to continue until 2021. We have to finalise this anyway,” said Tillie in an interview to l’Equipe.

The Japanese club season would end in early May with the annual Kurowashiki All Japan Volleyball Tournament. “Even if I go all the way with the club until the late stages of the domestic competitions, I can carry on from there with the Volleyball Nations League and the Olympics,” Tillie continued. “It is not yet official, as we have to discuss the details, but the negotiations are progressing well.”

Tillie, 56, has helped Team France achieve unprecedented success, including EuroVolley gold in 2015 as well as World League titles in 2015 and 2017. “The Olympics are an event that you have been waiting for four years; we know the importance of the Games for an athlete, the announcement of their postponement somehow crashes a dream, even if the decision is logical and unavoidable,” he said.  

Back in January, France secured their ticket to Tokyo 2020 after emerging victorious from a truly dramatic continental qualifier where they beat reigning European champions Serbia, Slovenia and hosts Germany in the process.

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