With just a few weeks to go before the start of Paris 2024, the World Judo Championships assumed the status of a major pre-Olympic practice competition. Amandine Buchard, a judoka supported by Ostrum Asset Management in the under 52kg category, and Madeleine Malonga, supported by BRED Banque Populaire in the under 78kg category, each won an encouraging bronze medal at this event.

A candid conversation for Amandine Buchard

As in other sporting disciplines, the fact that this is an Olympic year means that the World Judo Championships cannot be viewed as just another ordinary annual competition. A number of male and female judokas simply preferred to skip this year’s event and focus on preparing for Paris 2024. Others, however, decided to compete in Abu Dhabi to confirm their readiness, verify their progress, and take part in bouts to hone their competitive edge.

This was the case for Amandine Buchard, a judoka supported by Ostrum Asset Management and silver medalist at the Tokyo Olympic Games, who set out to win the world championship title that has eluded her until now. This was a legitimate objective given Amandine’s talent and the absence from this year’s competition of Japan’s four-time world champion Uta Abe. Unfortunately, the two-time European champion fell victim to a long-familiar weakness: self-doubt. It is not unusual that this amazing judoka is obliged to confront her opponents at the same time as her own fears, chiefly that of winning! This happened once again in the semi-final against Italy’s Odette Giuffrida. After this defeat, she had a game-saving conversation with Christophe Massina, head of the French women’s team. They had a frank, in-depth discussion during which they shared some home truths about what goes on in a judoka’s head in those crucial minutes when a medal is at stake… At the end of this discussion, Amandine went on to win the bronze medal.

Pulling herself together to win the bronze medal

It’s never easy to win a bronze medal in judo coming, as it does, after a defeat in the semi-finals. Amandine Buchard nevertheless emerged triumphant from her bout against Hungary’s Reka Pupp. The impact of her participation in this World Championship in Abu Dhabi will be all the greater in the weeks to come. Her defeat in the semi-final and the subsequent discussion with her coaching staff should prove to be an immense asset when victory is at stake in Paris.

The same is true for Madeleine Malonga. After losing her semi-final to Italy’s Alice Bellandi, she also had to overcome her disappointment to snatch a bronze medal full of promise for Paris 2024. All the more so as Madeleine Malonga, supported by BRED Banque Populaire, really had a tough fight to secure a place to compete in her category in the Olympic Games. So this new medal is encouraging for a judoka who was already crowned world champion in 2019… and in Japan to boot, the country of judo’s origins! A silver medalist in Tokyo 2021, Madeleine is naturally aiming for the Olympic title in Paris.

Now our champions must return to preparing for the forthcoming Paris Games…