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Luka Mkheidze, crowned at the Paris Grand Slam: “We must continue to work for the Olympic Games”

Our special correspondent at the Accor Arena.

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Luka Mkheidze, crowned at the Paris Grand Slam: “We must continue to work for the Olympic Games”

Our special correspondent at the Accor Arena

Luka, how do you feel after this success at the Paris Grand Slam?Luka Mkheidze: I am very happy. Days like this, I love them. What we remember in the end is victory. And even if in the final I only won on penalties, it's still good because the tactical aspect also counts.

Six months before the Games, it's good for confidence...Yes, totally. I hope to keep it throughout the preparation because I am someone who needs to be confident. Today, I have a staff, close people around me who help me and thanks to them, I have this confidence which helps me to perform.

Was it, in your eyes, a dress rehearsal for the 2024 Olympics? Above all, I think it was a good thing to fight here, in front of the French public, to succeed in nourishing myself with these positive waves. And it’s certain that winning here marks the occasion. I hope to do the same performance this summer at the Games.

What made it work so well for you today? I would say I was well looked after. I managed to lose my weight well, which allowed me to arrive at this competition not too tired, in good shape and motivated. This helped me a lot. Otherwise, I took match by match while being very focused on my competition. I didn't look at what others were doing. I was really in my bubble. I was calm and calm.

Can you tell us how you experienced this final? This is the third time I faced this Korean and I had beaten him the two previous times. But today was much more difficult than the other times. It's never easy to take on an opponent you've already beaten. It was very close, I had opportunities and then finally, I found myself trailing with two penalties to one. It wasn't easy to come back to 2-2. And then on the third, I didn't immediately understand what they were watching on the video. It didn't come down to much.

In the semi-finals, you also beat the reigning world champion, the Spaniard Francisco Garrigos...It's important to beat opponents with such a track record. This gives even more confidence. But afterwards, you shouldn't get carried away either. The best judokas will be at their best at the Olympic Games and that's where we'll really see who's the best. This is a magnificent title, I am proud of it but we must continue to work behind it.

Do you feel like you were the crowd's favorite?I wouldn't say I'm the crowd's favorite. I simply think that the public is there for all French people. I thank them for being so numerous today, it means a lot to me to feel supported.

The last Frenchman to have won here in your category of less than 60 kilos is none other than one of your coaches, Franck Chambily (who is also Teddy Riner's), and that was in 1996...I don't didn't know it. I worked a lot with him and I think he will be very happy for me. I have enormous respect for him.

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