Tokyo (AFP)

Thank you ladies! Worn by her fighters in the absence of Teddy Riner, the French judo, rich of three gold medals, offers the luxury of hitting the inevitable Japan at the World Championships in Tokyo, at one year of the 2020 Olympics in the Japanese capital.

They are three - against four for Japan - to have reached the highest step of the world podium in the prestigious Nippon Budokan, the octagonal hall nestled in the heart of Tokyo that will host the Olympic judo next summer (July 24-August 9): Clarisse Agbegnenou (-63 kg) first, became the first French judoka crowned four times, then Marie-Eve Gahié (-70 kg) and Madeleine Malonga (-78 kg), sacred for the first time.

Complete the tricolor collection two bronze medals, obtained by Margaux Pinot (-70 kg) and, gentlemen side, by Axel Clerget (-90 kg).

The French judo had not amassed so much gold since the World-2011 and those of 1997 organized both in his lair of Bercy (4 titles). This is all the stronger as Riner, his all-risk insurance, two-time Olympic champion in heavyweight and ten-time world champion, has skipped the rendezvous Tokyo, fully focused on the Olympic High Mass in eleven months in the country of judo.

"We have a team of fire!", Malonga said about the tricolor group Friday.

- "They do not cheat" -

"They do not lie, they do not cheat and they work hard," says Larbi Benboudaoud, the head of the Blue, which highlights the virtues of internal competition that "pulls" its students "upward" in certain categories.

"It's a very, very good week, we could not hope for better, we have fifth places (Clément, Buchard and Cysique finished at the foot of the podium, ed.) This is a good omen before the Games ", says the National Technical Director Jean-Claude Senaud with AFP.

"And it's a young team, it suggests" beautiful things "until Paris-2024," he continues.

The only French entered Saturday, Anne-Fatoumata Mbairo (+78 kg), she fell as soon as it entered the lists.

Riner absent, there was much less sparks men side.

As in 2018, the tricolor delegation has avoided the zero point, which it has not known since 1973, thanks to Clerget (32), a new bronze medalist.

But, as in 2018, he is the only one of the eight French fighters selected to have rallied to the quarterfinals, which open the way to the podium.

"It may be too short for next year, but there is something about to be born," Senaud defends "It was better than last year: we lose, but not in the first round, the third, or just before the quarter-finals. "

- The Japanese "not unbeatable" -

"There is a lot of progress, they have been on their own, there is still a lack of experience and presence, but they are much more engaged, there has been some good fighting," he added. -he.

If France regained the rank of second best nation, which it had lost for the first time in nine years in 2018, Japan was less imperial than usual.

Yes, fifteen of the eighteen Japanese fighters went on the podium. But only four climbed on the highest step, the last one, Akira Sone, in +78 kg Saturday, at 19 years old only. There were seven in 2017 and 2018.

"We were a bit anxious because for two or three years the Japanese dominated outrageously," says Senaud, "but there was an awareness among all the fighters that even at home they were not unbeatable. provided you attack them and try to disrupt them. "

Japan remains the favorite of the mixed team event that closes the Tokyo competition Sunday and will enter the Olympic program in 2020: he won the first two world titles at stake.

© 2019 AFP