On Saturday 3rd February Clarisse Agbegnenou again knocked at the door of greatness, pushed another boundary back to its starting blocks and gave everything she had to wear the Paris crown.

Yes, she has done it 6 times before, so no, it is not a debut. However, she has not done it since 2020, 4 years ago, she has not done it since becoming a mother and this is Olympic year too which carries a whole new feeling and expectation.

A for Athena.

Clarisse’s day was not easy, not easy at all. Japanese world champion Megumi Horikawa was due to be her second opponent and the French champion is aware of how much she is analysed by the Japanese, by all prospective opponents. That contest turned out to be a marathon, a 12 and a half minute tactical chess match between two incredible athletes, both capable of topping any podium.

Agbegnenou vs Horikawa.

After 5 contests and 5 wins it was clear that Clarisse Agbegnenou had made a statement about her fitness, her mental capability and her determination to achieve her goals. She fought for a total of 32 minutes and 27 seconds, a combat time not generally expected on the World Judo Tour. She did it with a commitment to the cause that can only be admired, no exhaustion allowed to penetrate her concentration.

“I’m happy of course but today I have to say thank you to the crowd,” said Clarisse. “They supported me from the very beginning to the end. I felt a vibration from them inside my body. There were moments when I couldn’t even hear the referee next to me but it was ok because I could feel everything, this support really gave me strength."

France is a country of judo.

"I have to ask now that, on 30th July, this is our appointment for you, the crowd, to be the same as you were today.”

Clarisse’s coach in Paris was Ludovic Delacotte and he too felt the power from the stands of the Bercy. “Bercy has a special atmosphere. The public give their energy to Clarisse and she gives it back to them on the mat. The public pushed her hard."

Ludovic and Clarisse.

"It was a very nice moment for me to coach in this atmosphere. I feel the vibration from them on my back. It’s crazy. There is no pressure, just confidence. But the most important thing is to take this is a good training moment and to do it again in 6 months, again with the crowd’s help, of course. It’s not going to be the same atmosphere as at Bercy, a much more intimate venue, but the energy will still be good and the home ground advantage will be with us.”

Clarisse Agbegnenou enjoyed her day winning in Paris, for the 7th time. Ludovic Delacotte enjoyed coaching in Paris and both are looking forward to doing it again in just a few short months from now. They are convinced the crowd is playing a part and can’t wait to feel it again.

Thank you Bercy!
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