Johanne Defay and the Mawem brothers: a look back at a great first at the Olympics

Competing for the first time in the Olympic Games, the surfers and climbers finally took part in the world's biggest sporting competition. A look back at the Japanese edition with the Private Sport Shop ambassadors, Johanne Defay and the Mawem brothers.

Carissa Moore and Italo Ferreira will forever be the first Olympic champions in the history of surfing. In Japan, on the black sandy beach of Tsurigasaki, the American and the Brazilian brought their country the most beautiful of medals in an event that never really benefited from ideal conditions.

On the French side, Johanne Defay suffered a lot in the women's event, as she could legitimately hope to be on the box as the world number two. In extremely small and difficult to read waves, the French surfer fell in the round of 16 to Portuguese member of the QS (qualifying round equivalent to the second division of pro surfing) Yolanda Hopkins. 

"I'm disappointed with my performance, disappointed with the waves," said the Frenchwoman as she left the water. "I feel like I couldn't give it my all. The random conditions like those of today do not bother me, on the contrary. But here, the waves were really difficult and the water complicated to read."

"With the wind, the waves could be okay or they could totally crash. It was a lot more complex than the warm ups in the previous days when there was no wind on the spot. I'm frustrated that I couldn't express myself, but in these conditions I think I'm not the only one to come out of the water with that feeling. But it's still my first Olympic experience and I won't forget it. At 27, the Frenchwoman can obviously aim for the next Olympic deadline which will take place on the famous spot of Teahupoo in Tahiti for the Paris 2024 Olympics. "It's a wave that won't level the playing field like here in Japan," she added. "It will be the opposite of what we had for our first Games."

In climbing, the Mawem brothers had mixed fortunes. Bassa, who injured his left biceps, had to give up the final, even though he had managed to secure his place among the eight qualified climbers with the first Olympic record in the speed discipline (5'45, the third best time in history). 

"I don't have a left biceps anymore," explained the French climber at the end of his first Olympic experience. "It's so big that it hasn't been confirmed yet, but I have a total rupture of the lower biceps tendon, my biceps goes all the way up to my shoulder. I have to have an operation, I'll be out for six months. I'm going to leave the little strength I have left to my brother, so that he can represent us as well as possible in this final. " 

And Michael came very close to winning a medal when he finally finished fifth. The Frenchman tied for first place after the first two events (speed and bouldering), but failed in the final difficulty event, not managing to go higher than half the route. It was Spain's Alberto Gines Lopez who won the first Olympic title in climbing history. "It came down to nothing in bouldering, a left hand that didn't hold a hold, several times. But I managed to do a good climb", explained the Frenchman after the final.

"It's cool to have been able to be at my best at the Olympics. I attacked it as if it was a first competition. Today, I will be able to start again on a second part. Physically, I'm fine. It's more mental, you have to hold on the whole time. My tactic was to train on speed and blocking, that's what got me into the final. I finished 3rd in speed and 2nd in bouldering. I wasn't counting on difficulty, especially as there are the best in the world around me. I stuck to my strengths. It was a good choice, and that's the law of competition. It's just a shame that Bassa couldn't compete all the way to the end and break his record, the Olympic record. There's Paris 2024 now, we're going to go all out. It's a big challenge, but we like big challenges." Appointment is taken for the French climbers.