|15 January 2014|
BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|EuroBasket champions France have been voted French Athlete of the Year 2013, underlining the popularity of basketball in the country|
Radio France announced on Wednesday that the men's basketball senior national team in its entirety has been elected by the public as the French Athlete of the Year (Le Sportif Français) for 2013.
The French national team, who conquered the EuroBasket 2013 title last September in Slovenia in what was their first ever gold medal success in 80 years, topped the relevant end-of year poll organised by Radio France with 34.8% of the votes of the French public.
François Gabart, the Yacht Racer who set a new record in solitary world circumnavigation, received 24.5% of the votes while judo athlete Teddy Riner came in third place with 8,8%.
Mrs Valérie Fourneyron, the Minister for Sport, will present France co-captain Florent Pietrus and French Basketball Federation (FFBB) president Jean-Pierre Siutat with the award in a special ceremony in Paris on Wednesday night.
"I am very pleased that all the work done by the FFBB is bearing fruit," Siutat said.
"This award is all the more valuable in that it comes directly from the public.
"It reflects the fact that French basketball, after an exceptional year in 2013, has won the hearts of French people.
"It highlights the passion for our sport, that we see on courts around the country every day, and encourages us to continue with the development policy we have followed for several years now."
Besides proving the enormous repercussion that the gold medal success at EuroBasket 2013 had around the French nation, this recognition also serves as an indication of basketball's rising popularity in the country, as the sport has now won the award two times in a row.
The winner of the award last January (awarded on the basis of achievements during 2012) was none other than Celine Dumerc, the French women's national team point guard.
A few days later, in February 2013, Dumerc went on to be pronounced the FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year for 2012.
"With Celine Dumerc in 2012, the French Women's team was rewarded by the public as a result of their outstanding performance at the London Olympics," commented the FFBB Technical Director, Patrick Beesley.
"In 2013, basketball returned to the main stage with the historic title of the EuroBasket.
"This award makes me happy because, beyond 'Les Blues' the entire work of the FFBB comes into the spotlight."
The poll was organised by Radio France, the national radio broadcaster, in collaboration with television station Canal+ and national daily Le Parisien.
Heptathlon and long jump champion Eunice Barber and former international footballer Fabien Barthez are the patrons of the award.