Julia Tolofua is a judoka from the formidable French heavyweight school that is dominating the World Judo Tour at +78 kg. Dicko has the Games but behind her stands a line of seasoned women with a catalogue of medals to support the narrative.
Julia Tolofua (FRA).

Tolofua is a double world medallist, a Masters medallist too and she arrives at every event with almost a guarantee of a podium finish. She knows she isn’t in the team for her home Games this summer but she was on the podium again at the 2024 European Championships and speaks openly about her judo life and philosophies.

Gold in Antalya, 2024.

“It was very hard when I first knew I would not be selected for the Olympic Games as it is a dream for all athletes. I have a lot of results and when I go to competitions I usually arrive back in France with a medal. I have had a hard period since 20th November when it was confirmed. At first I felt no emotion, I was numb, empty. For maybe 2 months it was hard to continue. I was sad and also quite angry, not with any one person but just in general. I didn’t feel good, having thought we would have until the Paris Grand Slam but my category was selected after the 2023 Europeans.

Winning in Antalya.

I am very thankful for my family and my friends, friends who are like my second family. I tried to enjoy that time with my friends, going out, socialising, just to have a good feeling in some way. One day I was speaking with Amandine (Buchard) and also a family member and they suggested speaking with a psychologist. Soon after, we went to a training camp in Japan and I had my first session with the psychologist, on FaceTime, while there. It was there that I changed my feeling.

In Japan and in Valencia I always feel I am in a safe place. In Japan life is cool, I understand things there. I went back to my disciplined athlete life and re-found my way to love judo again. In that moment I could reset my goals towards the European and world championships of the future. Not everyone understands the lives of athletes unless they are close to it one way or another.”


The Olympic Games is the ultimate goal for all athletes training in Olympic disciplines but so few can ever reach that pinnacle event from the millions of people practising and working for it. However, there are world championships, continental titles and huge other crowns to be won. Julia is now ready for the next stage of her career, evidenced by her medal-winning-perfromance in Zagreb a week ago.

She also has ideas about the kind of judo she likes to see and do, at all levels, “I don’t like all the judo of the heavyweights, some coming with only one technique; it has become a stereotype, expecting makikomi. Although sometimes a coach may encourage me to do it, I prefer to do the more traditional techniques and I train to improve them always. I like uchi-mata, combinations of ashi-waza, osoto-gari and sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi. I have good cardio and always a strategy and I want to bring this dynamic judo to every event I enter. I don’t like to win by penalties but with positive techniques; I look for ippon. Being heavy doesn’t mean a lack of good judo. I like judo and I also love it, it’s beautiful. I love judo’s form, it’s art and its possibilities."

Technical wins at the World Judo Masters, 2023.

"I like what we produce before being in competition, what we feel when it’s hard in training and on the tatami in competition there is another feeling, something else again. In judo of course the Olympic Games brings different sensations, but I give 100% of myself to the practise of judo and I believe in it.

Paris Grand Slam 2024.

Romane Dicko is my opponent and rival but also my friend and teammate and I want her to win gold in Paris. The federation chose her and if she wins the gold, all is correct for all of us and we will all be proud. It has to be this way. You have to know how to put your pride aside when something is deserved. I’m sad for me and I’m happy for her too, at the same time, and I have been happy throughout my career so far that she has been my competition.”

Dicko and Tolofua dominated at the 2023 World Judo Masters.

Julia Tolofua illustrates perfectly the breadth of judo’s impact and the opportunities it provides. The single decision made to take Dicko to the Games was at first a challenge to manage but in the end it was the traditions and philosophy of self-improvement, the search for perfect technique and the ability to share in something wonderful that brought Julia back to being happy in judo. A true professional, we will see Julia Tolofua with many more medals in the months and years to come.

Julia gives 100% of herself to the practice of judo, giving and receiving happiness at every opportunity.
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