Romane DICKO was the last of five French European Championship gold medallists in Montpellier. The 24-year-old former World champion and Olympic bronze medallist is enjoying “quality time” with her family after winning her fourth European Championship title. Before her departure back to Paris, Romane talked with EJU Media about….
… her special (hair) look: “I had my hair dyed white when I was under 18 at a Cadets tournament. I liked it and my teammates liked it too, so I stuck with it… At all the big events (Olympics, World Championships, European Championships), the colours of the French flag are added on top. That was the case in Montpellier, and it will be the same in Paris 2024. So far, it has almost always brought me luck.”
… the home European Championships in Montpellier & her 4th title win: “Merveilleux! It was absolutely magical to have fought for gold in front of my family and a good 8,000 fans… Of course, it helped that our team collected titles and medals on all three days. I dare to promise myself: We will also have a team in Paris at the home games that will be very strong and 100 per cent competitive. The atmosphere in our team is not only really good in training, but also at the competitions! Just talking about it immediately gives me goosebumps – Allez Les Bleux!”
… the fact that at the age of 24 you’re already (mixed team) Olympic champion, world champion and four-time European champion: “The word ,champion’ sounds quite big… I personally don’t feel like being a ,champion’. My approach to tournaments is pragmatic: I want to win as many fights as possible, as many tournaments as possible and deliver a top performance. And even if it doesn’t work out, clinching a title or a medal, I want to be able to say to myself: Romane, you did everything you could to be successful, even if it didn’t work out today. Every competitive athlete experiences dark days, even a champion…”
… the shock of losing in the first fight at the World Championships in Doha as defending champion and being knocked out: “Honestly, it was a really tough time. I felt like having failed big time, I couldn’t and didn’t want to talk about it for some weeks and met as few people as possible. I cried a lot… But at some point, I swore to myself: giving up is not an option. We have so many top judoka in France, at least two in every weight class. So I knew that Julia (TOLOFUA) wouldn’t wait for me… She will continue to deliver and collect points to qualify for the Olympics – and only one athlete can go (per class/country). Romane, you have to train again, you have to fight again! So I returned. At the same time I also wanted to find out the exact reason for my failure. My victories at the Masters in Budapest and now in Montpellier show that I’m back: I can withstand the pressure of expectations.”
… an advice for colleagues who are also struggling with setbacks: “The best advice is probably to take your time and find out exactly why you lost. You should always look for the reason for a defeat within yourself, not elsewhere. That’s the only way to get better… For me, this phase took several months after Doha.”
… the home games in Paris next year: “The Olympics are the biggest competition of all for athletes – especially in Judo. I consider myself lucky to be able to experience the Olympic Games at home, in front of a home crowd. Paris will be great and I really want to be part of this adventure. Ideally with individual and mixed team gold. In front of my family and best friends… Tokyo was just a dress rehearsal for me as a Frenchwoman – and without spectators because of coronavirus – Paris will be the ultimate! It starts with the opening ceremony – with all the boats on the Seine. I want to be there, can’t wait anymore.”
Author: EJU Media