The French sports world was in mourning on Tuesday following news of the tragic deaths of three prominent figures who were among the 10 killed in a crash involving two helicopters in Argentina on Monday.
Olympic gold medal swimmer Camille Muffat, Olympic boxer Alexis Vastine and sailor Florence Arthaud were filming a popular French reality show called Dropped at the time of the midair crash, which took place in a remote part of the country 730 miles (1,170 kilometers) northwest of Buenos Aires.
Five people working on the reality show, produced by production company ADL, and two pilots were also killed in the crash.
The other contestants on Dropped included swimmer Alain Bernard, cyclist Jeannie Longo, footballer Sylvain Wiltord, snowboarder Anne-Flore Marxer and skater Philippe Candeloro. They were not in the helicopters at the time of the crash.
France’s secretary of state for sport said he was profoundly saddened by the events.
“Some had finished their careers and one was dreaming of gold in Rio,” he said of Muffat, Vastine and Arthaud. “French sport has lost three stars this morning.”
Here’s what we know about the three:
Muffat, a 25-year-old from Nice, emerged on the French swimming scene when she was just 15 and made her Olympic debut in the 2008 Beijing but it wasn’t until the 2012 games in London that she took home a medal.
She set a new Olympic record in the final bringing home gold in the 400-meter freestyle. Muffat also took silver in the 200-meter freestyle and bronze in 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay.
“Camille was quite a shy and reserved person. She was discreet. But when it was time for a bit of a laugh she was always there,” Olympic gold medalist Amaury Leveaux told The Associated Press. “French sport has lost a great champion.”
Coached by Fabrice Pellarin for more than 10 years Muffat also took medals home in the world and european swimming championships. Speaking to L’Équipe Pellarin said he met with her before she departed for Argentina and said she was excited about the new experiences ahead.
Much admired in her home country, Muffat was named French Sportswoman of the Year, awarded by L’Équipe in 2012.
A dog lover who frequently posted photos of her English bulldog to her Instagram account, Muffat had retired from swimming to focus on her personal life.
Vastine, a 28-year-old from Pont Audemer in northern France, took home a Light Welterweight bronze medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. His semifinal loss to Manuel Felix Diaz from the Dominican Republic was marred in controversy as he was docked points by the referee in the final round. Vastine broke down in tears after the defeat and Diaz went on to take home the gold medal.
In 2012, Vastine again lost in the quarterfinals at the London Olympics again amid controversy when he drew on points against Taras Shelestyuk of Ukraine but lost on the countback rule, missing out on a medal. Once again he broke down in tears.
After his 2012 defeat, he said: “This is politics, not sport.”
Vastine was from a family of boxers. His younger sister, Céline, who was also a boxer, tragically died earlier this year when the car she was a passenger in swerved to miss an oncoming car, killing her instantly.
France 24 reported that despite a bout of depression, Alexis Vastine had resumed training and was planning to return to the 2016 Olympics in Rio to go for gold.
Arthaud, 57, was a pioneer in the sailing world. She was known in France as the woman who made a space for herself in the sport, which had until her arrival been dominated by men.
In 1990, Arthaud won the Route du Rhum, the single-handed, trans-atlantic yacht races between Brittany and the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe, in her boat the Pierre 1er. She did it in 14 days, 10 hours, beating French man Philippe Poupon.
The daughter of French publisher Jacques Arthaud, whose publishing hours specialized in telling the stories of great adventurers, she had a previous brush with death in 2011 when she almost died off the coast of Corsica after falling from her boat.
Describing the near miss as a “miracle”, Arthaud spent two hours in the open water before she managed to call for help and was rescued in difficult weather conditions, 15 miles northwest of Cap Corse off the northern tip of the island. She also survived a serious car crash when she was 17 that left her in a coma.
In 1990 she was given the French Champion of Champions award by L’Équipe, an award that has in other years been given to tennis star Marion Bartoli, Basketball player Tony Parker and racing driver Alain Prost.
Arthaud is survived by a her daughter, Marie.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press
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