A few days apart, the scene occurred three times. Three times, French judokas have left the Tokyo Budokan tatami in tears. Three times, the French women’s team has been torn between the satisfaction of a silver medal and the sadness to see an Olympic gold medal slip away under the nose of Amandine Buchard (- 48 kilos, Sunday July 25) , by Sarah-Léonie Cysique (- 57 kilos, Monday July 26) and, Thursday July 29, the latest in this grueling trilogy, Madeleine Malonga (- 78 kilos).
When we look at the mixed results of other French federations in Japan, we say to ourselves that the French judo is confronted (before the day of Friday, with Romane Dicko and Teddy Riner) with a problem of rich, with five medals – one in gold, one in bronze and, therefore, three in silver. This would ignore the immense sorrow that the collapse of a dream of Olympic coronation arouses when one thinks of it within kimono reach.
Facing the Japanese Shori Hamada, the judoka from the Blanc-Mesnil club (Seine-Saint-Denis) added two elements of frustration to her disillusionment. That of having been immobilized at the start of a fight – “There was no match”, recognized her coach, Larbi Benboudaoud – and that of having lost against an opponent she had already dominated. Before this final with the cruel result, the world number 1 led by four victories to two against her Japanese runner-up.
“I come home medalist, but, hot, it’s hard”
“It’s even more annoying because she’s a girl that I had beaten several times, especially in the final of my world title [en 2019], she blurted out. It’s an Olympic medal. You have to tell yourself that, it’s true. But when you lose, it really pisses … ” A reaction and an attitude almost identical to those of another Olympic vice-champion, her teammate under 48 kilos, Amandine Buchard: “I come home medalist, but hot, it’s hard. “
“We are still happy. We take what there is to take, but it is the third final that we lose ”, reasoned the coach Larbi Benboudaoud
Already titled in the world championship and European championship, “Mado”, 27, had only one obsession in mind: the Olympic title. Over-motivated, focused gaze and self-slapping slaps before her fights, she brooded over her goal in front of a few journalists after qualifying for the semi-finals: “It’s still judo. I am not overconfident. The way ? I do not care. This is the gold medal I want. “
Head coach of the French women’s team, also, recently, director of high performance, Larbi Benboudaoud likes to say that “Winning is contagious”. This former perfectionist judoka, who also lost an Olympic final in 2000 in Sydney, understood all the more easily the contrasting feelings of his fighters.
“We are still happy. We take what there is to take, but it is the third final that we lose. It starts to swell me, he reasons. Finally, you know what I mean … They are competitors. They don’t want to be second or third. When you are a competitor, you want to be champion, to be at the top of the box. “
Towards revenge in Paris in 2024?
The unhappy finalists will need a little time to manage to vent their disappointment and perhaps manage to savor their silver medal. They will be able to take an example from their leader, Clarisse Agbegnenou, Olympic champion this year, on her second attempt, after a final lost in 2016. “I advised Amandine [Buchard] to savor this medal. Something I hadn’t done at all five years ago ”, she confided a few minutes after her coronation earlier this week.
To savor was also the wise family advice sent by Anaïs Malonga to her sister: “Like I told him, you’re at the Olympics, you have to savor it. Whatever happens, be proud of your background and what you have accomplished. ” A month and a half after losing another final, that of the 2021 Worlds in Budapest, Madeleine Malonga may have only one satisfaction: an Olympiad shortened to three years.
In 2024, she will do everything to take her revenge: « It’s frustrating, but it will motivate me for Paris and win this Olympic gold medal. ”
Silver medalist in Rio in the same category at the age of 26, Audrey Tcheuméo has never had the opportunity. Because of her replacement during the 2016 Olympics. A certain Madeleine Malonga. Competition within French judo may be cruel, but it is also its strength.
Our selection of articles on the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games