The world of sport is in mourning following the tragic death of Olympic gold medalist swimmer Camille Muffat, sailing champion Florence Arthaud, and Olympic bronze medalist boxer Alexis Vastine while French TV channel TF1 was filming the survival TV show, Dropped, candidates in northwest Argentina.
According to video footage given by local news outlets, two helicopters have collided into each other bringing the ten people (including eight French people and two Argentinian pilots) on board down. Two years after similar French survival TV show Koh-Lanta dreadfully came into the spotlight for the candidate’s fatal heart attack and doctor’s suicide, French TV reality shows safety is questioned again by the public opinion.
Dropped gathered other famous contestants such as former Arsenal striker Sylvain Wiltord, ice skating star Philippe Candeloro and Olympic gold medalist swimmer Alain Bernard. Some of them, though shocked, expressed their sorrow on Twitter.
Olympic champion biathlete Martin Fourcade wrote the words and thoughts many held dear in their hearts: “Heroes never die. We have to honor their memories. Rest in peace Camille, Florence, Alexis.” French President Francois Hollande has joined the national tribute by proclaiming: “the brutal demise of our compatriots is an immense sadness.”
Florence Arthaud was well respected by sea enthusiasts. Indeed, she became one of the greatest sailing champions. Nicknamed “la Petite Fiancée de l’Atlantique,” she won the Route du Rhum yacht race in 1990. Her strong personality and deep connection with sea and nature allowed her to break into a man’s world. She left a strong footprint in the sailing world. A generation of women represented by free-spirited sailors such as Ellen MacArthur or Maud Fontenoy followed her tracks.
Camille Muffat became famous when she beat Olympic gold medalist Laure Manaudou in 2005. She then confirmed her natural swimming abilities in national races. She won each of the three medal classes at London 2012. She’s among the three French swimmers who performed such a feat with Micheline Ostermeyer and Laure Manaudou. She was both very discreet in the media and feared by her opponents for her great professionalism and winning desire. A year after she surprised many of her fans and the media with the announcement of her retirement, she was looking forward to taking part in Dropped.
Bronze medalist boxer Alexis Vastine may be the least famous of the three deceased athletes. He was nonetheless not the least followed and loved sports star. I’m among the TV viewers who witnessed his failure to win the boxing gold medal in Beijing 2008 and London 2012 in two very controversial referee decisions. He felt the ring in tears twice and promised himself he would come back stronger in Rio 2016. A golden dream he would never be able to fulfill. However, he inspired many other athletes who admired his determination to never give up. His story will certainly be the starting point of future majestic sports destinies.
Sport is beautiful as it does not leave sports enthusiasts unmoved. Even though I’m too young to have seen Florence Arthaud performances, I was thrilled by Camille Muffat and Alexis Vastine big wins and disappointments. Their memories will not be forgotten as they inscribed their names in the world’s pantheon and gave a rush of emotions to millions of people in France and abroad. Their training peers and relatives must now use this pain to go beyond their limits to procure more emotions to themselves and their fans. #Television