Budapest (AFP)

The bronze medal was very close but the French Julia Tolofua remained Saturday "one step from the podium" during the world judo championships in Budapest, where she nevertheless recovered well after difficult years.

"I'm disappointed but I had a big day. I have tears in my eyes because I know it was within my reach. I was one step from the podium so I'm a little sad", a- she recounted in the mixed zone after losing to Brazilian Beatriz Souza in the bronze medal match.

"We have the same judo. I made a mistake trying to counter her, she put all her weight and then, to get out, I did everything I could but I was really stuck below", she added.

But before this setback against world No. 7 and double Pan-American champion, Tolofua (24) had shown that she had her place at the Worlds, while in her weight category, it was Romane Dicko who would represent France. this summer at the Tokyo Olympics.

In the main draw, against valuable opponents like the Bosnian Larisa Ceric and the German Jasmin Grabowski, or in the draft against the Puerto Rican Melissa Mojica, she has always won by ippon after fights where she has constantly had the 'initiative.

Even in the quarter-finals against Cuban Idalys Ortiz, world No. 1 and category legend with her three Olympic medals, including London's gold in 2012, and her two world titles, she initially did better than resist. before being beaten by ippon on immobilization.

"It's my first Worlds, I was expecting them. I'm happy. I haven't let go all day, I showed what I wanted to show", judged the cousin of the two Tolofua of rugby, Selevasio and Christopher, both international with the France team.

- Mbappé-style fountain -

While she has experienced several major injuries since her outbreak in young people (cruciate ligament, ischios ...), when she competed with Dicko for national supremacy in a heavy category very high in France, these Worlds in Budapest confirm that it returns to the foreground.

"I still showed a lot of things, I had a good big day. But I could go to this place of three", regretted all the same the fighter of Orleans, aware of having passed very close.

The other Frenchwoman entered on Saturday, European vice-champion Léa Fontaine, was also beaten by Souza, who therefore hurt Les Bleues, but in the first round.

"I'm a little disappointed, a little frustrated. I wanted to do well but she led me waza-ari and I panicked a little, I didn't know what to do. It's a stored experience, we will work, "said the young (19) Frenchwoman in the mixed zone.

"I don't really like to base myself on age, age doesn't mean anything to me," she added, Kylian Mbappé way.

"We will improve all that and come back to take the red bib I hope. It is the law of the high level, we must accept it and respond to it by going back to work to come back stronger."

There were no French entered Saturday in the +100 kg, the category of Teddy Riner.

Sunday, the Budapest Worlds end with the mixed team competition.

© 2021 AFP