4 February 2024


Paris Grand Slam 2024


First tournament, first title. Anna-Maria WAGNER’s (GER) start to the Olympic year could not have been any better. The 2021 World Champion’s joy after winning the Grand Slam Paris for the first time was evident.

Laying down the performance on-point on the mat is amazing! It’s also a confirmation that the last two months have worked.

When the 27-year-old talks about this time, seriousness returns to her face.

I have trained really hard since the European Championships, trying to get the best out of every day. At the training camp in Japan, I already felt that I was strong. But to bring that to the mat here in Paris was extremely important for me.

With her debut title in Paris, Wagner has also overtaken Alina BÖHM (GER) again in the German domestic race for the ticket to Paris 2024. A crucial factor was the victory in the direct duel in the quarter-final.

Whoever is higher up in the Olympic ranking after the World Championships will go to the Games. But I personally don’t attach much importance to this specific win. In the end, it was just a victory I had to achieve for gold here – and to be honest: I would have preferred to fight someone else.

Not least because the two Germans, despite their rivalry, get along very well off the mat. They even warmed up together before the final block.

For us, it’s nothing unusual. We warm up together at every tournament. But for sure, having this little fight against each other on the tatami just gives us that extra bit of sharpness when it matters.

For example, in the final against Alice BELLANDI (ITA), who had already defeated two world champions in HAMADA Shori (JPN) and Madeleine MALONGA (FRA) on her way there. However, the third one in the person of Wagner was one too many for the Italian.

She did really well, as I struggled with getting close to her. It is a pity the final was not decided by a throw, like both of us had hoped for. I also told her after the fight I feel sorry for that.

With this, Bellandi once again failed to defeat Wagner in their fourth final encounter. A crucial factor in achieving the perfect start to the year was the germans mental strength throughout the day:

My mindset was really good. I mentally put blinders on, didn’t watch a single fight of the other fighters. I want to get the best out of every fight for myself, so I can say in the evening that I gave it my all.

An attitude that also brings Wagner a step closer to her dream of a second Olympic medal. Even if the 27-year-old still has numerous stops to make before the final decision on her ticket to Paris – namely the Grand Slams in Tashkent, Tbilisi, and Antalya, as well as the European Championship in Zagreb and the World Championship in Abu Dhabi: the foundation for a successful 2024 is certainly laid for Wagner …

Author: EJU Media