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May 23 - A group of French medallists from the Vancouver Olympics have been honoured by Annecy 2018 at a special ceremony attended by Bernard Accoyer, the President of the French National Assembly and Edgar Grospiron (pictured left), the chief executive of the bid.
France won a total of 11 medals in Vancouver and six of them were claimed by students from the Institut Universitaire de Technologie (IUT) in Annecy, which officials hope will give a big boost to the city's bid to host the Olympics and Paralympics.
Those honoured included Vincent Jay, winner of the biathlon 10 kilometres sprint, one of two gold medals France won during the Games.
Jay, who also claimed a bronze in 12.5km pursuit, received an award along with snowboard cross competitor Déborah Anthonioz, and fellow biathletes Sandrine Bailly, Sylvie Becaert and Marie-Laure Brunet, who all won silver medals, and Tony Ramoin, a broneze medallist in snowboard cross.
The IUT is the only establishment in France that offers a full programme for professional winter sports athletes built around their specific needs and race schedules.
Students follow their curriculum from April to July leaving the winter free for competitions.
Sophie Dion, the sports advisor to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, was among those who was present to congratulate the medallists.
Grospiron hopes that their success will help reinforce the message that the Annecy is the ideal place to hold the 2018 Games ahead of rivals Munich and Pyeongchang.
He said: "Annecy and its citizens have a long tradition with sports.
"Everyone does some sort of exercise here - hiking, downhill or cross-country skiing, cycling, running, ice skating.
"Sports are part our territory and I encourage the development of sports-study programmes such as the Annecy IUT that push young athletes and prepare them to be the champions with a professional future.
"Since the Annecy ski-study programme was created in 1985, 20 Olympic medals as well as 52 World Cup medals have been won by IUT students.”
Bailly, an Ambassador for Annecy 2018, said: "In Annecy, while leading a professional sports career, I was able to get my degree and continue to build my future.
"This support for young athletes is important as it takes into account an intense training programme and race circuit while building
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