July 25, 2021
by Ijaz Ibrahim
PORTRAIT – The French swordsman has not experienced a trajectory like the others to become Olympic champion at 24 years old. His first medal on the international scene in individual. The most beautiful.
Special envoy to Tokyo
He lived his childhood in Brazil, then in the United States
If Romain Cannone was indeed born in France on April 12, 1997, near Boulogne-Billancourt, he did not stay there very long, then following his parents to Brazil to live his first school years in kindergarten. Before another great upheaval and a departure for New York, where his parents decide to launch a macaroon shop. And it is in the Big Apple that he will discover fencing at the age of 9, under the leadership of his cousin Zoey who pushes him to try foil, before becoming a star of his school. of Coney Island, the New York Fencing Academy (NYFA).
He has a Ukrainian mentor
The one who shaped the not very academic but very spectacular fencing of Cannone is called Misha Mokretsov. The meeting between the two occurs in 2010, when the Frenchman is still only 13 years old. At the time, it was more intended for the practice of foil, before changing to épée, convinced by Mokretsov, a former silver medalist in his country, Ukraine. Together, they will continue their journey, which made Cécile Cannone, Romain’s mother, say on the NYFA website: “Mokretsov is a true fencing enthusiast and he knows how to pass this on to his students. But the two of them are actually much more than student teachers to each other. It’s a very deep friendship, and he gives Romain great advice in many areas of his life.“
He shouldn’t have played his games
An Olympic title sometimes comes down to little. Initially selected as a replacement for the team event, Cannone was not expected to compete in the individual competition in Tokyo. An honor that should have gone to Daniel Jerent (30), both reigning Olympic champion and world champion in 2019, both times in the team event. Except that the latter, targeted by an investigation by the French Agency for the Fight against Doping (AFLD) for a positive control for a diuretic, Dorzolamide, was finally ruled out by the French Fencing Federation. A decision taken according to an extremely simple precautionary principle: by keeping Jerent in the team, the Federation took the risk, one day, of losing their possible medal on the green carpet if the swordsman was found guilty (which is not the case. case for now). A principle which therefore made Cannone happy.
He has never been on an international individual podium before.
The resident of Insep, and member of the VGA Saint-Maur (Val-de-Marne) club, only points to 47e world rank. Far behind his two compatriots present in Tokyo, Yannick Borel (6e) and Alexandre Bardenet (11e). Suffice to say that imagining him going so far was a colossal surprise. Especially since he owed his selection to his team performances, and not to those in individual, to say the least since he had never climbed on an international podium without his little comrades by his side. His best result was a 7e place at a World Cup event in Vancouver on February 8, 2019. But with the health crisis, world fencing has gone almost a year and a half without competition, which has undoubtedly made it possible to reshuffle the cards and open up the field of possibilities. Cannone is the best example of this with his formidable feat.
He is studying in Master
Throughout his career, Cannone never stopped studying, especially in the United States where he was at university. Since his return to France from Insep, he has also joined a Parisian school, SKEMA, where he follows a “Master in Audit, Management Control and Information Systems“. “I very much appreciate the understanding and support of SKEMA on my double project: high level athlete and higher education», He explained on the school website. “I benefit from adjustments to my course, shifting periods of internship… This allows me to devote myself fully to the periods of preparation and competition. This flexibility and the support of my teachers are a real plus. I live and train at INSEP and I jump in the RER A as soon as possible to join my classes.“