27 October 2023



France encompasses medieval cities, alpine villages, and Mediterranean beaches. Paris, its capital, is recognised for its fashion houses, classical art museums including the Louvre and monuments like the Eiffel Tower. The country is also popular for its wines and sophisticated cuisine. France is 551,695 km² with the population of 67.75 million (2021), most of whom probably tried judo at some point, nonetheless it’s safe to chance they all know about the gentle way

The sports industry in France is highly developed and diverse. Judo is one of the most popular sports in the country. The National Judo Federation of France was established in 1946 and has been making its mark across the judo world ever since. Most recent statistics show that currently, there are around 512,504 people practising judo across 5156 clubs. The figures include overseas French territories such as the Réunion. 

Angelo Parisi is a sensational former judoka who won four Olympic medals for two countries. Three of those were for the ‘Les Bleus’.  Angelo, alongside former teammate, Thierry Rey, marked one page in the history book of France Judo as they hailed the country’s first ever Olympic gold medals in judo. The unforgettable moments were delivered during the Moscow 1980 Olympics where Thierry aced the -60kg category whilst Angelo conquered the +95kg category. 


France have won the total of 57 individual Olympic medals so far and given that they are hosting the next summer Olympic Games; this will almost certainly grow. To date, there are a total of 15 Olympic victories achieved by 13 individuals. 

France’s individual Olympic Gold Medallists in Judo

1980 MoscowAngelo Parisi (+95kg)
Thierry Rey (-60kg)
1988 SeoulMarc Alexandre (-71kg)
1992 BarcelonaCécile Nowak-Grasso (-48kg)
Cathy Fleury (-61kg)
1996 AtlantaDjamel Bouras (-78kg)
Marie-Claire Restoux-Gasset (-52kg)
David Douillet (+95kg)
2000 SydneyDavid Douillet (+100kg)
Séverine Vandenhende (-63kg)
2012 LondonLucie Décosse (-70kg)
Teddy Riner (+100kg)
2016 Rio de JaneiroEmilie Andéol (+78kg)
Teddy Riner (+100kg)
2020 Tokyo Clarisse Agbegnenou (-63kg)

Former President of France Judo, former General Secretary of the International Judo Federation (IJF) and Vice-President of the European Judo Union (EJU), Executive Committee member of IJF and Honorary member of EJU, Mr Jean-Luc Rougé also carved a page in the story book when collecting the first World Championship title for the country. This momentum was established in 1975. 

There are 193 senior world judo medals France can account for, of which 58-times the team was able to embrace the rhythm of the La Marseillaise. Two handfuls of these golden memories belong to judo icon, Teddy Riner. Below, the list of senior World Judo Champions of France. 

1975 Vienna Jean-Luc Rougé (-93kg) 
1979 ParisThierry Rey (-60kg) 
1980 New YorkJocelyne Triadou (-72kg)
1981 MaastrichtBernard Tchoullouyan (-86kg) 
1982 ParisBéatrice Rodriguez (-56kg)
Martine Rottier (-61kg)
Brigitte Deydier (-66kg)
Natalina Lupino (+72kg)
1984 Vienna Brigitte Deydier(-66kg)
1986 MaastrichtBrigitte Deydier(-66kg)
Dominique Brun-Maaoui (-52kg)
1987 EssenCathy Arnaud (-56kg)
Fabien Canu (-86kg)
1989 BelgradeCathy Arnaud (-56kg)
Fabien Canu (-86kg)
1991 BarcelonaCécile Nowak-Grasso (-52kg)
Stéphane Traineau (-95kg)
1993 HamiltonDavid Douillet (+95kg)
1995 ChibaDavid Douillet (+95kg)
David Douillet (Open Weight Category)
Marie-Claire Restoux-Gasset (-52kg)
1997 ParisDavid Douillet (+95kg)
Marie-Claire Restoux-Gasset (-52kg)
Séverine Vandenhende (-61kg)
Christine Cicot (+72kg)
1999 BirminghamLarbi Benboudaoud (-66kg) 
2001 MunichCéline Lebrun (Open Weight Category)
Frédéric Demontfaucon (-90kg)
2005 CairoLucie Décosse (-63kg)
2007 Rio de JaneiroGévrise Emane (-70kg)
Teddy Riner (+100kg)
2008 ParisTeddy Riner (Open Weight Category)
2009 RotterdamTeddy Riner (+100kg)
Morgane Ribout (-57kg)
2010 TokyoLucie Décosse (-70kg)
Teddy Riner (+100kg) 
2011 Paris Lucie Décosse (-70kg) 
Gévrise Emane (-63kg)
Teddy Riner (+100kg)
Audrey Tcheuméo (-78kg)
2013 Rio de Janiero Teddy Riner (+100kg)
Loïc Pietri (-81kg)
2014 Chelyabinsk Teddy Riner (+100kg)
Clarisse Agbegnenou (-63kg)
2015 AstanaGévrise Emane (-70kg)
Teddy Riner (+100kg)
2017 BudapestTeddy Riner (+100kg)
Clarisse Agbegnenou (-63kg)
2017 MarrakechTeddy Riner (Open Weight Category)
2018 BakuClarisse Agbegnenou (-63kg)
2019 TokyoClarisse Agbegnenou (-63kg)
Marie-Eve Gahié (-70kg)
Madeleine Malonga (-78kg)
2021 Budapest Clarisse Agbegnenou (-63kg)
2023 DohaTeddy Riner (+100kg)
Clarisse Agbegnenou (-63kg)

The National Judo Federation of France conquered Europe’s rostrum 569 times during individual events. France also hosted several team events since 1975 with the latest of those being the 2022 European Judo Championships Mixed Team event. The overall medal table of the senior European Championships between 1952-2022 displays France on top with the total of 239 gold, 165 silver and 247 bronze medals. This tally includes team events and open weight categories too. Yet, the first ever French judoka to call themselves European Champion and marking another important moment, was Bernard Pariset, who won the title in Paris 1951.

The first ever French judoka to win a senior European Championships, Bernard Pariset, who claimed the title in Paris 1951. © France Judo

We are days away from the 2023 European Judo Championships which will take place in Montpellier, France. It will be the 10th time that the individual senior European Championships are held in this judo-devoted country. The first ever European Championships were held in 1951, in Paris.


France is not only acing tournaments after tournament at the senior level but also at cadet, junior, Kata and Veteran events. Since its existence, the nation claimed countless world and continental victories within these categories. This year was no different.

France’s latest cadet European Champions are Alyssia Poulange (-52kg) and Leonie Minkada-Caquineau (+70kg). Melkia Auchecorne became junior World Champion this month when she conquered the -63kg. Alwena and Eleobane Le Coadou aced gold during the 2023 Kata Europeans. The sisters precisely won the Ju No Kata 2G division.


France is not only famous for their winning streak in individual events but equally so when it comes to team events. During the last Olympic Games in Tokyo, the mixed-team event was introduced for the first time. The French team jumped to the opportunity to open another page in their history books when defeating Japan in the final.

EUROS 2023

Every year, events such as the Tour de France, the Paris Marathon, the French Open Tennis Tournament, the Six Nations Rugby Championship, and the Paris Judo Grand Slam attract more and more visitors. To participate at the latter is one of many judoka’s life goal, as the Bercy stadium holds a special place in the heart of all. 

Next week, the list will extend with the earlier mentioned senior Europeans. Team France is ready for action at the Sud de France Arena. A team filled with European, World and Olympic medallists, some of whom are current title holders of these prestigious events. The tally will undoubtedly and heavily expand by the end of next week.

Discover the official poster of the individual senior European Judo Championships 2023. © France Judo

PARIS 2024

Whilst all judo eyes are on France next week, the world is also watching closely as we are approaching the 2024 summer games, which is to be held in Paris. The event will take place between 26 July – 11 August 2024. In judo, the host nation is eligible to enter one judoka in each weight class. Whilst avoiding the distress of qualifying, this set up can still put significant pressure on both the athletes and officials, as the merit of judoka in this country is above the norm. One indisputable note for Paris 2024: Team France, once more, will greatly increase their medal count.

Are you ready for Paris 2024? Double Olympic medallist, Clarisse Agbegnenou certainly is. Take a look at the video below. See you in Paris!

Off the mat…Did you know?

Author: Szandra Szogedi