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Judo: 172 days before the Paris Olympics, Riner and the Blues are doing well

With eight podiums during the Tokyo Games in 2021, judo was the discipline with the most medals for France.

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Judo: 172 days before the Paris Olympics, Riner and the Blues are doing well

With eight podiums during the Tokyo Games in 2021, judo was the discipline with the most medals for France. A status that it intends to maintain since the president of the French Federation, Stéphane Nomis, had affirmed, ahead of the Paris Grand Slam, his ambition to collect ten medals at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. is nothing illusory given the twelve awards – six gold, one silver, five bronze – won at the Accor Arena from Friday to Sunday.

And eight! This Sunday, at the end of a tense final against the South Korean Kim Minjong, who valiantly played his card, the Frenchman managed to find the opening after a few seconds in the golden score, thus winning his 8th title during the Paris Grand Slam, which places him alone at the top ahead of the seven crowns of Lucie Décosse and Clarisse Agbégnénou. However, the three-time Olympic champion's day could have changed in a less happy way in the semi-finals, when the Uzbek Alisher Yusupov (3rd in the world) inflicted an ippon on him. But a review of the video changed the situation, granting only a waza-ari to his opponent. Still alive, with his back to the wall, Teddy Riner regained all his enthusiasm to first return to the level of his opponent. Before delivering the blow with a thunderous ippon. Like in his finest hours. Proof that, even if he is rare in competition, the Frenchman with 11 world titles remains “the” reference. And his ambition to win, at the age of 35 (he will have them on April 7), a third individual Olympic title in Paris is now by no means inaccessible. Quite the contrary.

For several years, the excellence of French judo has been expressed mainly through its women's collective. What this Paris Grand Slam has once again resoundingly confirmed. Like her head of the gondola, Clarisse Agbégnénou (- 63 kg), radiant to conquer her 7th title in the tournament. A way, for her, to “slam her fist on the table and make things clear” – after her failure last November at the European Championships in Montpellier, which she finished in an unusual 7th place. .

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

Conqueror, physically close to her best level, the six-time world champion and double Olympic champion won several very close fights which should boost her confidence with a view to Paris 2024. The same goes for Shirine Boukli, gold in the - 48 kg category, or Romane Dicko, crowned for the second time at the Accor Arena in 78 kg, while Marie-Ève ​​Gahié (- 70 kg) finished in silver and Sarah-Léonie Cysique (- 57 kg) in bronze. Which therefore means that the five selected for Paris 2024 present in this competition all reached the podium. And, if necessary, a replacement is already showing up with Faiza Mokdar, titled at 22 years old in the -57 kg category, and Léa Fontaine (also 22 years old), in bronze in the 78 kg category.

Beyond confirming the good state of form of the headliners of French judo, this Paris Tournament also had the challenge of delivering lessons, more or less definitive, as to the identity of the last four selected for Paris 2024, coming to join the ten lucky ones announced at the end of last November. As such, a certain vagueness remains. Among the women, only the -78 kg category did not deliver its verdict and the duel between Madeleine Malonga and Audrey Tcheuméo took place at the Accor Arena.

Also read Madeleine Malonga: “Each person manages competition as best they can”

In repechage, and not in the semi-finals, as hoped. At the finish, Malonga won the penalty game after a non-combat, before going on to win a nice bronze medal. It remains to be seen whether this result will make it possible to definitively decide between the two former world champions, or whether the suspense will continue. Among the men, Maxime-Gaël Ngayap Hambou hit hard by also winning the bronze medal in the -90 kg category, a performance which could allow him to win the Olympic jackpot to the detriment of Alexis Mathieu (eliminated in the round of 16) or the Olympic team champion Axel Clerget (out in the 2nd round). Conversely, the -100 kg category is hardly more advanced, with no French representative capable of passing the 2nd round. In the under 73 kg category, by reaching the round of 16, Joan-Benjamin Gaba did not shine, but he did better than his competitors, which could have an impact.

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