Emmanuel Lebesson and Jianan Yuan European Mixed Doubles Champions in Munich

They had come for her, but never imagined that once around their necks, this gold medal could concentrate so many emotions. Winners Monday in the mixed doubles final of Romanians Ovidiu Ionescu and Bernadette Szocs (8-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-9), Jianan Yuan, 35, and Emmanuel Lebesson, 34, not only brought the seventh title of European champion in the French “ping” (outside the team event), the third in mixed doubles after Jacques Secrétin (associated with the Russian Irina Popova) in 1984 and the duo Jean-Philippe Gatien-Wang Xiaoming in 1990, but they also showed that we had not waited for them for nothing.

“We had been waiting to erase this defeat for a year”

Themselves had been chomping at the bit since June 2021, and this semi-final lost in Warsaw to the beautiful face of the Germans Dang Qiu and Nina Mittelham, future European champions, after having dropped four match points. “We had been waiting to erase this defeat for a year”recalls Yuan. “She hurt us, and the bronze medal had a bitter taste”confirms Lebesson.

Before that, they had to manage their status as favorites, with this label of European leaders (3rd in the world), which made the podium compulsory. “The most difficult match? The quarter-final (Sunday), Yuan concedes. If we lose, there is nothing. Today (Monday), we were more relaxed. » Nothing could stop the French pair, who first won in the semi-finals against the 2021 European vice-champions, the Slovaks Lubomir Pistej and Babora Balazova (3-0), then in the final.

Objective Paris

Lebesson could enjoy his second Marseillaise on a European podium, after his singles title in 2016. “Six years ago, it was astonishment, I was not expected, he remembers. And I had won against Simon (Gauzy), my joy was more measured. »

Since May 2019, his journey has accelerated in mixed doubles. Once Yuan, naturalized in January 2011, allowed to wear the blue jersey. “We were told that our games could go well together, the proof”, smiles Lebesson. Slowed down by the Covid period, the duo resumed their race in 2021, and now have two victories on the WTT circuit (in Tunis in October 2021 and in Qatar last March), a fourth place at the Tokyo Olympics and two European medals, including a title. He is of course aiming for the Paris Games, in two years. But, to be part of it, it will also be necessary for Lebesson, like Yuan, to prove themselves essential to a France team which continues to grow.

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