A little less than six months before the Olympic Games in Paris, French judo had the opportunity to strike hard at the Paris Grand Slam. Even if this takes place at the Accor Arena in Bercy, while the Olympic event will take place at the Arena du Champ-de-Mars, many people saw it as a great rehearsal in sight. of the big summer deadline to come. And in this context, it was important to mark your territory. Especially since the discipline, which brought eight medals to France during the Tokyo Games in 2021, displays great ambitions by mentioning a goal of ten podiums.
To achieve this, the Federation decided to communicate very early on a list of ten selected out of 14 for Paris 2024, removing any pressure from them linked to the qualification path. A choice which triggered some turmoil and other misunderstandings but it is clear that on this first day at the Paris Grand Slam, the result is quite convincing. Aside from the categories of less than 52 kilos for women - in which Amandine Buchard had withdrawn to preserve herself - and less than 66 kilos for men - where Walide Khyar did not create the feat against the Japanese world multi-medalist Joshiro Maruyama - France shone everywhere.
Starting with the women's under 48 kilos, where Shirine Boukli won the first title of her career in Paris. Impressive during the first rounds, the 2023 world vice-champion was able to bring out the blue in the final against the Japanese Wakana Koga, who will not be the Japanese representative at the next Games but who nonetheless remains a reference . In a fight with twists and turns which continued until the golden score, Boukli thought he would win, before his action was canceled. A scenario that would happen again a few moments later, but this time to the detriment of Koga, who clenched his fist in satisfaction before having to go back to work. To finally bow to a perfectly executed ground immobilization of the reigning European champion.
A good half hour later, the Parisian enclosure would vibrate again with Luka Mkheidze, a real darling of the stands. Opposed in the final to the South Korean Harim Lee, against whom he had two victories, the bronze medalist in Tokyo in 2021 also had to resort to the golden score. On a tightrope at one point with two penalties against him, the French judoka was able to reverse the trend to push his opponent to make a mistake for the first time. Then one second after reviewing the video, which ended the fight. A great day for Mkheidze who also beat reigning Spanish world champion Francisco Garrigos in the semi-final, which is always good for confidence ahead of the Games. And also for his world ranking, this title at the Paris Grand Slam should allow him to enter the Top 5.
And the magnificent blue-white-red day was not over. In the women's under 57 kilos category, the selected for Paris 2024, Sarah-Léonie Cysique, certainly suffered the law of the Canadian world number 1 Christa Deguchi in the semi-finals, but the Tokyo Olympic vice-champion knew perfectly well remobilize to win a new podium by inflicting an ippon on the Serbian Marica Perisic. So of course, it wasn't the gold we were looking for but everything counts six months before the Games, starting with bronze in a Grand Slam. The big surprise of this first day came from Faiza Mokdar. At 22, the woman who ranks 70th in the world had a dream Friday. Falling the German Pauline Starke (13th in the world) in the round of 16, then the Brazilian Rafaela Silva (7th) in the quarterfinals, the Frenchwoman beat the world number 2 Jessica Klimkait to the golden score in the semi-finals before completely surprising Christa Deguchi , victim of Mokdar's day of grace and "ipponized" in just a few seconds. Enough to make the Bercy public reel with happiness.