Eric Poujade, Olympic gymnastics vice-champion in 2000, died suddenly at the age of 51

Eric Poujade, Olympic gymnastics vice-champion in 2000, died suddenly at the age of 51
Eric Poujade, Olympic gymnastics vice-champion in 2000, died suddenly at the age of 51

L’Equipe announced the “sudden death” at the age of 51 of Eric Poujade, silver medalist at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games on pommel horse.

French sport is in mourning. Former gymnast Eric Poujade, silver medalist on pommel horse at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, has died at the age of 51, L’Equipe announced on Tuesday. The reasons for this “sudden death” have not been revealed. Double European champion in 1998 in Saint Petersburg (on pommel horse and team), the native of Aix-en-Provence lived his peak in 2000 by becoming Olympic vice-champion in Sydney after a masterful performance in Australia. Then aged 28, he had only been beaten by the Romanian Marius Urzica.

A revenge after his fall in 1996

That day, Eric Poujade won the third French gymnastics medal in the modern era of the Olympics after Henri Boério (bronze on the high bar in 1976 in Montreal) and Philippe Vatuone (bronze on the floor in 1984 in Los Angeles). Four years before his silver in Sydney, Eric Poujade had fallen during the pommel horse final at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, finishing seventh. “I was ready, but I wasn’t focused,” he confided in an interview with Sud-Ouest in 2012, revealing that he had been surprised by the media hype and the opening ceremony he had attended the day before his entry into the competition.

Eric Poujade, seen here during the pommel horse final at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, has died aged 51 – AFP

The former member of the Orléans club had come back from the brink. Already vice-world champion in 1994, he had won another silver medal at the World Championships in 1997, a few months after a ruptured Achilles tendon. His two European medals in 1998 had confirmed his rise to prominence towards the 2000 Olympics. “I wanted to end my career with the only medal I was missing,” he confided in Sud-Ouest. At the last Olympics, there were two of us, the Romanian Marius Urzisa and me. He had a full season. He would have had to make a mistake for me to win.”

At the end of his career, he settled in the southwest of France where he became a technical sales representative for the Gymnova brand, the world leader in gymnastics equipment. Eric Poujade was the father of two daughters.

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