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French press review 11 August 2012

Text by: Marjorie Hache
4 min

The London Olympics dominate the French papers today, with nationwide pride for pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie. Also, a look at France's maths superstars.


Most of the French press have reserved a section to the 2012 London Olympics and the victory of Renaud Lavillenie, who with the help of a massive pole, hoisted himself over 5m97 and obtained the gold medal for France.

Le Figaro notes that Lavillenie is the first Frenchman to have gone over 6 meters -- presumably not last night, though. And he is the first since Marie-José Perec in the 1996 Atlanta Games to have won gold for France in athletics.

According to the conservative paper, Lavillenie underwent gruesome training last autumn when he would spend three hours jumping 100 times. Most pole vaulters do 20 minutes of 30 jumps.

Aujourd'hui en France is also headlining "Lavillenie au sommet" or "Vavillenie on top," as it describes how the athlete was in tears in the arms of his girlfriend and brother after winning gold. And it wouldn't be Aujourd'hui en France if there weren't a little bit of scandal.

Such is the case for France's 5000m runner Hassan Hirt, who was disqualified on the eve of his race after the performance-enhancing drug EPO was found in his urine sample. According to a source, the athlete had initially refused to leave. Originally part of the army, Hirt had not been seen training all that much with other athletes throughout the year and not long before the Olympics, he had managed to improve his personal record by 15 seconds. The paper goes on to speculate whether or not, and especially when and how, he had taken performance-enhancing drugs.

London Olympic Games 2012

Libération has dedicated its front page to the London Olympics. It's all praise for the English capital and with the closing ceremony taking place this Sunday, Libé says the games have been a great opportunity for Britain. Let's remember the Brits won 50 medals.

The left-leaning paper has eight pages dedicated to the Olympic Games. It praises Britain’s organisation and reflects on France's desire to organise the 2024 Olympics. In 2005, France lost out to Britain when it campaigned for the 2012 Games.

But let's forget the Olympics and whatever medals France is or isn't winning. France really rocks when it comes to maths. That's according to the front page editorial of Le Monde entitled, "How to be the best at maths and remain in that position."

Two young French mathematicians recently received a prestigious award handed out by the International Association of Mathematical Physics: the Henri Poincaré Prize.

The award has been around since 1997 and is handed out every three years. France has received five of the 12 prizes. A woman, Sophie Morel, 35, who teaches at Harvard was also rewarded. The editorial notes that there is only one downside about maths in France: the elitist concept of being good at maths doesn't come easy to all. Teenagers in France are overall not as fantastic as our proud winners. More needs to be done to remedy this.

Another article Le Monde concerns a huge water reserve that has been found under Namibia by a German Namibian research team. It is thought to date back 10,000 years and is at least five billion cubic metres. It highlights the richness of African resources. The paper writes that "the African continent is rich with 'blue gold'." Many believe that this reserve, in particular, could have trickled down over the centuries from Angolan mountains 350 kilometers away.

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