Yannick Borel, European champion for the fourth time: "I was able to question myself"

“You are European champion for the fourth time in your career, after a relentless final against the Dutchman Tristan Tulen (15-1)…
I had met him a few times and had beaten him more often than he had beaten me. As it was a final, I just said to myself: “don’t let him hope. You have to kill all hope in him”. In this kind of situation, in the final, if the guy starts to hope, you can play the title to sudden death and I didn’t want a 50-50 like that. I wanted my match to be built from A to Z to have a fourth victory in the Europes. Four in five editions! (the 2020 and 2021 editions having been canceled due to the Covid, Borel won the title in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2022)

“You have to be careful in a championship like this. All the guys believe in it, it’s a day, you never know what can happen”

The start of your day had not been easy…
Wake up, 5:45 a.m. Shuttle to the room, 6:45 am… I knew it was going to be a long day. And the hens, it was complicated! But for everyone, I think: there is even an Italian who is in the 16 best in the world who jumps at this stage (Cimini). From my first match, I trailed 4-2, I fight to come back and win. And fortunately: in the end, I have three wins for three losses. Every touch was important. And at least with the character I fought to show that I was going to be in the fight. I also thought a lot about my father, as it was Father’s Day… Those who beat me there, they really beat me. Then I knew that the painting would be random, the chickens reshuffle the cards so much.

Have you inherited opponents with an established track record?
I had a complicated painting. Already, I had to shoot an extra round, a table of 128. It promised seven matches during the day. Then in 32nd, I take the winner of the last World Cup event, Stankevych. Then I continue against a member of the 16 best in the world, Vismara. Then two world medalists, Jorgensen (bronze in 2015) and Schmidt (bronze 2017). In the half, it’s Heinzer, several times medalist in Europe (three bronze and two silver)… You have to be careful in a championship like that, all the guys believe in it, it’s a day, you don’t never know what can happen. Everyone says to themselves: “this is one of my last chances, I have to give it my all”. So you respect your opponents, and I found the key every time.

“I took a tactical option. I am often expected on the offensive. I can’t throw myself at the guys, because they know me very well on the circuit, they study me on video, I realized that at the Games.

With a very particular match against the German Schmidt, where you waited for a long time.
I took a tactical option. I am often expected on the offensive. I can’t throw myself at the guys, because they know me very well on the circuit, they study me on video, I realized that at the Games for example (defeat in the round of 16). I am aware of it. I have to surprise differently. I have offensive, defensive and counter-offensive weapons. If my opponent no longer knows where to wait for me, it’s more complicated for him!

Does this title definitely put you back on your feet after the failed 2021 Olympics?
It feels good. It shows that I was able to question myself, in depth, at all levels, personal, fencing, physical, because these two defeats in Tokyo hurt. I wondered how to put the maximum chance on my side to repeat the performance. I don’t have much time left, I think, I’m rather at the end of my career, at 33 years old. After the Paris Games, I don’t know what will happen… So I must have no regrets, and now I don’t calculate anymore. “There, I have to hide, there I mustn’t make a podium”. Nope ! If I win, I win! “.

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