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Clarisse Agbégnénou, crowned at the Paris Grand Slam: “I can’t wait to be at the Games and see what it will be like”

Our special correspondent at the Accor Arena.

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Clarisse Agbégnénou, crowned at the Paris Grand Slam: “I can’t wait to be at the Games and see what it will be like”

Our special correspondent at the Accor Arena

Clarisse, what flavor does this success have at the Paris Grand Slam? Clarisse Agbégnénou: This title feels good. It wasn't easy to pick up. I'm very happy. This allows me to start the year off right and to clarify things a little in everyone's heads, especially everyone (smile). I am proud to have reached this point today, at the end of a day that was not easy. But I know that the path which will lead to the title in Paris will not be easy either and I need a day like that.

It was really important to you to set the record straight after your 7th place last November at the Euro in Montpellier...Yes, very important. I told myself I couldn't stay there. I knew I was very tired at the time and that I still had a lot of loose ends to tie up. Now, just because I won today doesn't mean I'm 100%. It just validates progress, work that was done and I had more energy.

Physically, how did you feel during the day? I felt really good. I've been like this for two weeks. I arrived here with a lot of desire, telling myself that it was now that I had to bang my fist on the table with the support of the public. Besides, it was even more extraordinary than I could have hoped for and I can only thank them. I tell myself that if at the Games I have an audience like that to push me, it will be magical and the day will be very beautiful. In any case, I will do everything to make sure it is. I can't wait to be at the Games and see what it will be like. But to come back to your question, I can't wait to take a nice hot shower. And I think tomorrow when I get up, it's going to sting.

We have the feeling that you had more speed in your judo than in Montpellier...Yes, it's coming together. It was much better. I was less tired so obviously that changes a lot of things. I felt freer. Physically, I feel stronger, therefore more mobile. It's not 100% yet, but it's on the right track. I have to continue working to get to the top at the Games.

We're also starting to get used to seeing you win long fights, which wasn't the case at the start of your career...I'm adapting. I am a chameleon, and a phoenix too who is reborn from the ashes (laughs). I try to take on my opponent with the weapons I have. If these are about making her mentally break down, no matter how long the fight lasts, I'm going for it. I want to show them that I don't stop until I win.

The next competition will be in Tashkent at the beginning of March. What do you want to work on between now and then? First of all, I'm going to try to rest, it won't do me any harm. I think I'm on a good run and if I can add a little more speed, I should be able to finish a few matches a little sooner.

Now that we have moved to 2024, do you have the feeling that time is passing even faster? It is speeding up, but as I have my life as a mother, it is especially my daughter who speeds up, who talks more. She's growing and if she is, that means the games are coming. But otherwise in terms of judo, I'm still quite detached and that suits me well. I think first of my daughter's well-being and my own, and I keep my feet on the ground before the wave hits.

In the semis and final here, you faced two recent junior world medalists. It's the symbol that a young generation is coming...Of course, they are growing and they are very strong at less than 63 kg. I saw some of them in training and I'm not surprised. I feel like they want to push me out but girls, I'm still here. You will have your time but for now, it's still me and thank you, because you make me progress and move towards other horizons.

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