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Canoe Kayak.  Guillaume Burger: “You can’t take away an Olympic qualification all at once” – Canoë-Kayak


When did you hear about the ICF turnaround?

My staff learned about it in the evening of Thursday and informed me the next morning, that is to say Friday morning. There was a World Cup to play in the wake and my staff must have understood what we were informing them, which was initially incomprehensible to us.

What did this Olympic qualification mean to you?

First, qualification is only a step. The goal is the medal at the Olympics. After that, I am 32 years old and I did not manage to qualify in 2008, 2012, 2016. So, finally, I passed this stage. It was not my best race but, there, I succeeded in individual while I have almost always been lined up as a crew. I had to pull out something that I had never done! I had given my best and fulfilled my goal. Such strong emotions had never happened to me. Behind, they try to cancel it for me! And the international federation (ICF) acts as if nothing had happened. I feel like a ghost when I did a perf. You can’t take an Olympic qualification away from me with a wave of a magic wand.

What happened ?

The regulations are very confusing. Maybe France did not have the right to race but the ICF had declared us eligible for this quota. She encouraged us to participate. The day before the competition, there was a meeting where she validated the registration. Me, I’ve been preparing for years. I did my job. I can’t accept being deleted like this.

Since then has the situation progressed?

We had a World Cup that followed this Olympic qualification. So I tried to put blinders on for two or three days to stay competitive. Just after the race, I had the opportunity to meet two of the officials of the international federation. They have apologized a good hundred times but it can’t stop there. The problem is that the quota was given to the Norwegian, the candidate just behind me. We can’t take it away either. Otherwise, it just shifts the problem. At the ICF, I am told that they do not have the opportunity to correct their mistake because the number of participants in the Games is limited. We’ll see what we can do. I expect a legal or behind-the-scenes battle to get this moving. I have a lot of people (FFCK, CIO, Athletes’ Commission …) who support me. I can’t believe I’m not qualified. I firmly believe in it.

Can you still qualify by another means?

Already, if we do not succeed, the last resort will be the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport). We try to avoid that. Beyond that, France already has three quotas in kayaks (one in single-seater, two in two-seater), it was the fourth which made it possible to train a K4.

During the selections, I had very good results like Thursday. The selection committee will meet soon but it is not excluded that I am one of these three qualified.

How long have you been in Rennes?

After four years in the Paris region, I came to revive myself at the France pole of Cesson in 2011. I came to join a more pleasant living environment, a coach (the Morbihannaise Claudine Leroux) and a solid training group. I found a balance in Brittany and I signed with the Saint-Grégoire club in January 2018.

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