27 February 2024


Olympic Games Judo 2024


The hype is intensifying, the only thing on anyone’s mind is the Paris Olympic Games 2024 and now we’re only 150 days away from seeing our -48kg and -60kg medals hopes step on the tatami in the specially assigned Grand Palais Éphémère in the Champ-de-Mars. The location has a stunning backdrop with the iconic Eiffel Tower which has become a focal point. One of the athletes competing for Team France will be double Olympic Champion, Clarisse AGBEGNENOU, and after hearing the love the crowd have for her in the Paris Grand Slam, we can’t wait to see the support in the Olympic Games.

I’m a new woman, a new athlete, I need to do what I can I can with what I have. I don’t have the same body, strength or mentality as before. I actually think think my mental strength is better and my body is following. Even my technique changed because of the changes to my body, but step by step I’m the new Clarisse. I’m different, but I’m dangerous. 

Standing under the Eiffel Tower on the banks of the River Seine, Clarisse is donned in her gold-starred judogi, looking ever the champion and has goals for the tower to be behind her once again as she tops the -63kg podium in front of a home crowd.

In the Paris Grand Slam, the crowd and atmosphere is amazing and I can only thank them for the strength they give me, when they scream my name it is insane, the spirit was amazing. In my heart I wish we could fight in Bercy because we know we would have so many people there but in any case, in the Éphémère, it will still be incredible. Especially as we had no one in the Budokan, it will just be nice to actually have people there to support us again. I will take all the strength from them and make them happy of course. 

I think, for France, and for the French people, judo is one of the top sports in the Olympic Games, so it’s great that they put us at the Eiffel Tower, it shows that they really believe in us to be the best and bring a lot of medals. I hope we will do it for all the nation and that final picture will be iconic. 

Many would assume the pressure and nerves as swarms of people descend upon the French capital would be incredible, but this experienced athlete and now mother, is – at present – unfazed.

Not now. I feel totally different now I have Athéna. All of my thoughts are about her, if she is healthy, I’m happy and that’s it. I don’t worry about anything else. Really all of my concern is about her, still now in the middle of the night I wonder if she’s breathing! Maybe a couple of weeks from the competition I will feel different but I can’t say, I think as long as she is happy and healthy I’ll be fine. With her I’m the happiest person ever, and this Olympic Games is just a plus for me, so if I can have the plus, plus, PLUS, I’ll take it! 

With the recent exception of the Tokyo Olympic Games, the Olympiad is four years and for the hosts, it is a unique opportunity to be on home soil and take in the atmosphere of home support.

I would never have imagined that I’d fight in the Olympic Games at home, it is unbelievable and totally incredible. I think for the moment I haven’t full realised it, I see all the preparation and how everything is changing in Paris, we cannot really move much anymore here! So many people will come here and it will be such a unique experience that we simply must enjoy. Paris is magic, even when it’s cloudy, it is still a beautiful city. As a team we are confident, and after the final announcements, I think the mentality will be really strong. We are in good shape, we are ready, we have no choice other than to be fully prepared. 

After the introduction of the Mixed Team event, it is a talking point for all, can France once again beat the Japanese powerhouse?

The team event will be incredible, I still don’t know if I will fight because the category is -70kg, I’ll be the second hand! I hope I can bring points to them and I know Team Japan want our heads. Seeing the other teams, they’re becoming stronger so we need to really come with everything we have. 

In Tokyo, I became Olympic Champion and defeated Olympic Champion ARAI (JPN) in the final, it was so incredible. I’d never fought against her, maybe once in a camp and I just had to do my best and take that point! I had absolutely nothing to lose and when the contest started I thought ‘Oh I think I can win this!’ But I could feel that she was scared, I think maybe the pressure was huge for their team on that day. 

Chelsie GILES (GBR), Andreja LESKI (SLO), AN Baul (KOR), CLARISSE AGBEGNENOU (FRA), Michael KORREL (NED), Alina BOEHM (GER), Shirine BOUKLI (FRA). © Gabi Juan


Author: Thea Cowen