2 February 2024


Paris Grand Slam 2024


It was not necessarily to be expected that host nation France would be the clear leader after the first day with three gold medals and one bronze. Shirine BOUKLI (-52) and Luka MKHEIDZE (-60) had won European Championships gold medals in front of a home crowd in Montpellier in November. And now, on the first day of competition at the 50th Paris Grand Slam anniversary edition, they both picked up where they left off. With home victories, their debut ones at the Grand Slam in Paris-Bercy. “I’m relieved and proud, but not surprised. This is my fifth Grand Slam success. It was only a matter of time,” emphasised the 25-year-old Boukli. “I’ve already won bronze at the Olympics and two Grand Slam victories. This victory in front of the Paris fans is the best thing that could have happened to me before the Olympic Games in July. Now I have even more self-confidence,” commented the 28-year-old Mkheidze. Both have long been fixed starters for the Olympics.
So far, so good. France had delivered and won also a bronze medal through Sarah Leonie CYSIQUE. However, the very last fight of the day, the gold final – 57 kg, turned everything upside down. It was not enough that Faiza MOKDAR had eliminated world number 2 Jessica KLIMKAIT in the semi-final. Canadian compatriot Christa DEGUCHI, world number one and current world champion, was waiting in the duel for gold. The woman to beat.
Her opponent had nothing to equal her on paper: Faiza Mokdar has only just turned 22. She will only be a spectator at the Olympic Games in 174 days’ time. She is currently only ranked 71st in the world rankings. Only insiders have known the three-time European junior champion until now. She has already appeared twice at Grand Slam tournaments. But otherwise she has mainly competed in junior or second-tier senior tournaments. So much for the facts.
53 seconds later, the judo world was upside down. Faiza Mokdar had surprised the number one with a flawless ippon. Still lying down, she clenched her fist and smiled. The local heroine struggled a little more during the subsequent interview marathon. “My plan was not to let Christa attack on the left and I succeeded,” said Faiza. “Judo is my profession and I’m a hard worker. That’s the only way you make it to the top. It’s unbelievable that my first Grand Slam victory came so quickly. It certainly helped that I got through to the first round against Hasret Bozkurt, who I had lost to in Belgrade in the Champions League. If anything spurred me on today, it was this rematch, after that it went like clockwork.”
Spectators should make a note of the name Faiza Mokdar. She is still only France’s No. 4 in the – 57 kg category. At the Paris 2024 Games she will only be sitting in the spectator area. But the advance of the No. 71 in the IJF ranking is pre-programmed. Nobody will doubt that from today…


Author: EJU Media