Second day of competition for judo at the Tokyo Olympics this Sunday.
Among women, up to -52 kg, a category in which the French Amandine Buchard is a big favorite.
After having to give up the Rio Games because of a depression, she intends to take her revenge and win the title she dreams of in Japan.
From our special correspondent in Tokyo,
From our special correspondent in Tokyo,
An anomaly to repair. Not that a title of European champion, acquired very recently in April, is worth nothing, but when Amandine Buchard landed like a bomb on the tatami mats of the adults at 17 years old to become French champion of -48 kg, in 2012, everyone imagined him with another record eight years later. But things have happened since for the judokate born in Noisy-le-Sec (Seine-Saint-Denis), who is aiming this time for nothing other than gold at the end of this day dedicated to -52 kg at the Tokyo Budokan.
“For me, the Games are a dream, but not just sporting,” she explains.
It will be the culmination of many things in my life as a woman too, because judo has helped me to move forward.
If I'm here today, it's because he saved me.
This is not hyperbole.
In 2016, she thought about quitting the sport altogether, and much worse.
She was then suffering from a severe depression, because of draconian diets to be able to fight in -48kg which ruined her health.
A new start in 2016
Eating disorders, behavior, memory ... The judokate, obsessed by the scale, sank.
“I was really in a sorry state, with the Federation pushing behind […] and which did not take into account several alerts, she told the Parisian in 2017, after having regained the upper hand.
It was my relatives who were afraid for me.
»And which pushed her to react.
Direction Spain and Valencia, on the advice of his psychologist Meriem Salmi.
She stays there with friends from March to September, after having to give up on the Rio Olympics, while training at the local club.
On her return, with a new team at the head of the Blue, she decides to change category to put an end to this feeling of oppression.
From now on, she will fight in -52 kg.
Everything has been better since then. Third at the 2018 Worlds, she failed to win gold the following year but took revenge by flying over the Grand Slam in Osaka, where she won in the final against the big boss of the category Uta Abe, double world champion. and undefeated for three years, in front of his audience. The organizers, who had moved his final so that the Crown Princess consort of Japan could attend and present him with the gold medal, still remember it.
"I love it when I feel that the room is against me, it transcends me, gives me even more strength", assures "Bubûche", as it is nicknamed in the France team.
Adversity shaped her.
Beyond her weight problems, she had to overcome two upsetting events in her personal life: the death of her father in 2008, due to a pulmonary embolism following an ankle injury which became infected, and her mother's denial when she found out her daughter was gay.
"My reward for having been able to stay strong all these years"
About his mother, not much to say.
She has not spoken to him since 2017, and it is all alone that Amandine Buchard decided to speak about it publicly.
Recently, she spoke at length about the subject in the Canal + documentary Should we speak, where she is one of the six athletes to commit to free speech.
Regarding his dad, on the other hand, it remains a gaping flaw.
It was after starting judo when he saw her practice that he was injured.
Despite his daughter's insistence, he did not want to treat himself properly and continued to fight relentlessly, until this fatal outcome.
Rather than live with eternal regret, she chose to move on, thinking of him in every fight.
“This Olympic dream is also hers,” she explains. It was he who put me in judo, made me love it. When I was little, we didn't talk about big championships yet, all that, but I already had the fiber and when we watched the Olympics together, he dreamed of seeing his daughter there. I hope to make him proud and come home with the title. It would also be my reward for holding on and staying strong all these years. "
Amandine Buchard is ready to overthrow all those who come in her way.
Almost invincible this year, she feels "more confident, stronger" than ever.
She would almost regret the absence of an audience to support her main rival.
Always the same.
“Frankly, beating Abe in the final in Japan for the Olympic title would be the absolute Holy Grail.
»And a line on his record worthy of his immense talent.
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