Frenchman Alpha Djalo won the bronze medal in the under 81 kg category on Saturday at the European Judo Championships in Montpellier.
Beaten in the semi-final by Georgian Tato Grigalashvili, double reigning world champion, Djalo recovered by beating Belgian Matthias Casse, bronze medalist at the Tokyo Olympics. He won by ippon after only 49 seconds of fighting before bursting into tears on the tatami. He had previously dominated the Swiss Lukas Wittwer, the Bulgarian Georgi Gramatikov then the Hungarian Attila Ungvari.
At 27, Djalo won the first medal of his career in an international championship in Montpellier after numerous attempts. “I’ve come so far, I’ve always held on. You have to realize everything I was able to do to get there,” said the Frenchman. “Perseverance, I think that’s what defines me today.”