European champion, world champion, Olympic champion, Clarisse Agbegnenou has the most beautiful record in women’s judo. But the young woman found herself a new challenge: to defend her two Olympic titles in Paris under the eyes of her audience and her family. A family that could be extended soon. The 28-year-old judokate has expressed her desire for motherhood, integrated into her sports project, before Paris 2024.
Fabien Levêque: Was this Olympic preparation long and tiring?
Clarisse Agbegnenou : Already 4 years is a long time but 5 years is a mountain. You have to climb it and it was very, very hard. I always say that I explain to my children, to my grandchildren, that we experienced the Olympic Games of the war. Because it was a really difficult moment. Between athletes, we do not see each other. Normally, we are used to seeing each other throughout the year, to travel, to share things. And that was a time when we were a bit alone, it was difficult. I was in a good state of depression, it must be said, it was very complicated. So I survived these war games, and I’m glad I got out in the best possible way. I won the war with my team and I am very proud of it.
What state are we in after a year that required so much investment?
I had a feeling of relaxation. When I won, when I knocked Tina down, I was relieved. I told him: that’s it, it’s done. This is no longer to be done, it is checked. These medals are mine. Well especially mine, individually, because that’s when I felt relieved. After a year like this I said to myself: but how can I do more? Good years are to come but I wonder how I will do better. This year I graduated and won two gold medals. Not one, but two! I think I am at the pinnacle. It’s a magical moment but fatigue is also very present. The two feelings are at the same height, at the same percentage. I am very tired and very happy. But very exhausted, very seen in fact.
When we have won everything like you, what can still challenge you today?
What can challenge me is to tell me that what I experienced during the Tokyo Games can be shared with the public. What was really impressive, between us athletes, was that we experienced a very united moment, made of sharing and mutual aid. I hope we can keep that and involve the public in Paris. It really was a wonderful time.
Since you have checked everything, what will guide you now?
What will guide me, me, is my Parisian audience. I admit that if the Games had not been in Paris, it would have been very difficult to motivate me. There, given that it was in Tokyo without an audience, it makes me want to share it with the family, the audience and the supporters in Paris. What more could you ask for? It’s gonna be amazing. And it’s always good to say to yourself that you can win a third Olympic medal, well a fourth Olympic medal now.
Are you already projected on Paris 2024?
There I think I need to rest anyway. It will happen very quickly. We are at home, we talk about it all the time, so obviously we project ourselves. But then I tell myself that I had to resource myself. Take the time. Don’t go too fast so that you don’t get broken at the end. So I take my time, I’m a good diesel, and behind it all goes.
What will happen between now and Paris 2024?
A lot of things, there are always a lot of things going on with me. So I promise you great trips and then I would love to do a Paris tournament, a European championship and a world championship. I think we need to expand this list, which is already very large, but which I would like to expand even more. I also promise you a bit of everything, you have to leave some magic behind I think. Myself, I don’t know. There is something that will still amaze me.
A baby ?
Who says ? I hope anyway. It would be good.
Yes, it is a good choice. I think it’s a good motivation. It’s good to go back to the Games with a family, to tell yourself that you are fighting for something, not just for yourself. It’s motivating.
Could we have a gold medal mom in Paris 2024?
Here we go ! Ah, if it was that simple. It’s a great challenge and that’s also what drives me. I say to myself: Clarisse, you can do it. You already have everything on your own, so do it in a difficult way, get women that anything is possible. It’s a great challenge to show them that they can tackle their professional life, their private life and all the activities around them. Without struggling.
So does that mean there’s a break soon?
Yes, after for the moment I am not, so I can still continue. And then, even if there is a break, we can still train. We have to see the doctors but there is nothing problematic, we can still move. It’s good to see how the body can function at the same time as the pregnancy. I am in the process of making my schedule and seeing with the various coaches to be able to carry out this project head-on.
Still full of projects with medals and a beautiful family …
Exactly. It’s good, said like that, it does something to me. I like it anyway, it’s a very, very beautiful program.