France’s Mazella ready to take off at the Paris Games By Reuters

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4/4 © Reuters. France’s Axel Mazella, double kitefoil world champion, ready for kitefoil take-off at home Games 2/4

By Noemie Olive HYERES (Reuters) – Frenchman Axel Mazella has yet to officially secure a spot for the 2024 Olympics, but he is still excited for kitesurfing to make its debut at the Paris Games. Mazella, 24, double world kitefoil champion in 2017 and 2019, is part of a dominant team from France that will seek to shine in their home waters in Marseille. “We have this great advantage compared to other countries that we have a great French team. We have 10 athletes who are the best in the world,” coach Arianne Imbert told Reuters. “We have four men in the top six in the world. They can train together, compete with each other and improve, while some other countries may have only one team member.” At the Olympics, kiteboarding will have a mixed kitefoil relay race, with kiters standing on a surfboard propelled by their kite while reaching a speed of 35 knots (65 kph). “We have to be stable, since we just stand on a pole, a piece of carbon under our feet, we are on the tightrope,” said Mazella, who just got her physical therapist degree. “The first time I got on a kitefoil I felt like I was flying. When you don’t touch the water, you feel like you’re on a cloud.” When you no longer hit the water, there is no noise, it feels good. It’s like being in a dream. “The French team for the Olympics will be selected in a series of world events between November 2023 and May 2024.” Being in the Olympics is a good thing for our sport, it will make it more accessible, “said Mazella. France is expected to be the favorite, as kitefoil was born in the country where kiters are close to professional level.” Kite foil was born in France, so we were like the forerunners of this activity, “said Imbert. It gained recognition before other countries as we quickly reached a high level with dedicated physiotherapists and trainers during competitions.”

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