Sporting glory for France in handball and sailing

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French women claim handball world title and sailor François Gabart smashes circumnavigation record

France celebrated two major sporting triumphs over the weekend, after the women’s handball team claimed victory in the world championships and solo sailor François Gabart smashed the round-the-world record.

The women’s handball team, Olympic silver medallists at Rio 2016, took their first world title since 2003 with a closely fought 23-21 victory over previous champions Norway at the Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg. They overcame a three-point deficit in the first half and led 12-10 at the interval.

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The French team claimed the title with a 23-21 victory over Norway

“It’s wonderful,” said the coach Olivier Krumbholz after the match. “I’m very happy for the girls, for the older ones who made three finals and lost three finals. They knew how to seize the opportunity.”

The win comes just two years after the team finished a lowly seventh in the last world championships, and 11 months after their male counterparts won the world championships on home soil in Paris.

Elsewhere, sailor Gabart completed his circumnavigation of the globe in just 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 35 seconds, before being greeted by a massive crowd and a flotilla of local boats in Brest, Finistère.

© V. CURUTCHET DPPI MACIF © Y. RIOU MACIF 2017

His journey was an astonishing 6 days and 10 hours quicker than the previous record, set by fellow Frenchman Thomas Colville last year, though the record time is subject to the World Sailing Speed Record Council’s analysis of the trimaran’s black box GPS data.

Mr Gabart, who set off on November 2, posted an emotional video after breaking the record off the island of Ushant in the English Channel. “I’ve just crossed the finish line. It’s pretty crazy. It’s pretty unreal. I’m a bit overwhelmed.” he said.

V. CURUTCHET DPPI MACIF © Y. RIOU MACIF 2017

Among the other records that he broke en route were the fastest navigation of the Pacific Ocean (seven days, fifteen hours and 5 minutes) and the longest distance covered in 24 hours (1,576 kilometres).

“I’m proud and happy to have made this pretty voyage around the planet,” added Mr Gabart.

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