It is with great sadness that the Muaythai community received the news regarding the helicopter crash yesterday which claimed the lives of three of France’s sport icons, London 2012 Olympic swimming champion Camille Muffat, 25, sailor Florence Arthaud, 57, and Beijing 2008 boxing medallist Alexis Vastine, 28.

Joël Bouzou, President and founder of Peace and Sport, a partner of IFMA’s Sport is Your Gang initiative stated that “Two of them were Olympians. All three of them, just like all athletes around the world, embodied the values of peace. Each of them has moved us, thrilled us and made us proud. They have filled our hearts with emotion. Beyond their sporting performances, they were committed to giving back to society what sport had given them.”

In total, eight French nationals and two Argentinean pilots were killed after two helicopters collided, including Muffat and Vastine, who won a light welterweight bronze medal at Beijing 2008, as well as gold at the 2005 Mediterranean Games.

Sailor Florence Arthaud, a solo yachtswoman who first gained fame for winning a race across the Atlantic Ocean as a 17-year-old before triumphing in the 1997 Transpacific race across the Pacific, was also involved.

In a statement this morning, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach claimed he was “shocked by this sad news”. Mr Bach added: “Our thoughts are with the families and friends of these great athletes who have left us. With them, the world of sport and the Olympic family have lost three of their key members. They were all not only champions in their sport but also contributed greatly as role models.The Olympic Movement mourns with their families and friends, their fellow athletes, the French National Olympic Committee and with France.”

Mr Bach added that the Olympic flag will be flown at half-mast for three days at the IOC Headquarters to honour these great champions.