Amandine, how are you approaching this European Championship in Montpellier, 9 months before the 2024 Olympic Games? Amandine Buchard: I am approaching it like any other European Championship. I'm relaxed, in quotes. In the past, I paid to see that when I approached a competition too frustrated or too stressed, it prevented me from performing well and producing my judo. So I'm relaxed in a positive way, in the sense that my judo is in place, I know what I want to do and I've worked a lot lately to be ready. I am confident in what I have put in place and I am focused on my goal, which is to be European champion. In addition, for the record, the first European Championship that I experienced in my career was in Montpellier in 2014. I won the silver medal and there, I want to win.
Apart from the Japanese Uta Abe, all the strongest girls in your category will compete in these European Championships. Is it important to mark your territory during this competition? In my eyes, this will be a very good indicator. Already during the Masters in Hungary in August, I was able to take on the Englishwoman Chelsie Giles and the Kosovar Distria Krasniqi (for two victories), which was very positive. And if I can confirm about this European Championship, that would be great. Now, I don't want to put any particular pressure on myself. I will still have reference matches before the Olympics. What will be interesting is to see how they have progressed since the Masters and what they have worked on, especially towards me. This will be a good way to position myself afterwards.
Does the fact that it is in France give a particular flavor to the event, like a foretaste of the Games? No, I am not making a link between the two. The particular flavor, for me, is this link as I said with my first European Championship which took place in Montpellier. It brings back some very good memories (smile). At home, it makes you want to be the best you can be.
What did you focus your work on before this European Championship? A lot on physicality. I did less judo, and more bodybuilding, muscle strengthening. I also worked a lot on my mobility, on the kumi-kata (holding the kimono), on my speed of execution. I'm going to see where I am in all these areas since the Masters. I see this as a mini-assessment.
In this French women's team, there is very strong competition in certain categories to win the only ticket to Paris 2024. Do you feel stress building among your teammates? Do you support any? I don't see myself rooting for one over the other. We all train together, I see the work that everyone puts in. In certain categories, it is certain that the race to qualify for the Games will last until the last moment, in April. When I encourage them, I do it for everyone, without distinction. For me, it would be inappropriate to take sides with one or the other. We all get along well. I will be happy for those who will go to the Games, and I will be there to support those who will not go.
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