Judo: Buchard wins gold, Valadier Picard walks away with bronze

Tuesday, 7 November 2023

At the European Judo Championships staged in Montpellier, an important stage in the Olympic selection process, Amandine Buchard, a judoka supported by Ostrum Asset Management, won the gold medal. Romain Valadier, supported by DNCA, won bronze at the end of a long and difficult day.

Romain Valadier Picard’s “crazy” day

The pressure on the shoulders of France’s judokas competing in Montpellier this past weekend was simply enormous considering what was at stake in the competition: the title of continental champion and the fact that Montpellier had been chosen by the Federation as a major step on the road to qualification for the Olympic Games Paris 2024. Judo is one of the sport with the largest number of competitors in France. And, unlike other sports, the Olympic Games only accepts one representative per nation and per category. This means that qualifying for the Olympics is frequently an extremely difficult process for French judokas. And particularly so in certain categories, such as the men’s under 60 kilos. Frenchman Luka Mkheidze, who already won a medal in Tokyo, won the European title and is now the favorite… but 21-year-old Romain Valadier-Picard, backed by DNCA (an affiliate of Natixis Investment Managers), also scored points in the race for selection. In fact, he put up an incredible performance that day, demonstrating his qualities as an outstanding competitor. He defeated two-time European champion and reigning world champion Francisco Garrigos of Spain in a crazy match that called for enormous stamina and mental strength. 

Romain won the bout after four minutes in the “golden score” sudden death overtime period. He then faced a similar battle against the Ukrainian Dilshot Khalmatov in the semi-finals. Unfortunately, the French judoka from Boulogne Billancourt, a municipality in the Paris suburbs, was defeated after four minutes in the golden score period after a minor slip-up: a hold on his opponent’s canvas pants. What’s even more remarkable, however, is that he managed to put this huge disappointment behind him and go on to challenge the experienced Belgian Jorre Verstraeten, a judoka used to fighting at this elite level populated by simply outstanding competitors. Romain Valadier showed an exceptional range of judoka skills, an insane amount of energy, and enormous stamina. He was constantly on the attack in the duel, from which he emerged triumphant after more than nine minutes of fighting! 

Read the last interview with Romain Valadier-Picard

Mandine Buchard clears her way to the Olympic Games

Things were different for Amandine, whose presence in Montpellier was virtually a mere formality to confirm her selection for the Olympic Games Paris 2024. The Olympic runner-up backed by Ostrum Asset Management (an affiliate of Natixis Investment Managers) enjoyed the status of favorite… but with everything to lose! The pressure created by this position was so great that she began the competition feeling extremely tense, which prevented her from giving free rein to her judo skills. But, by keeping a clear head, she was able to shake off her nerves as the day wore on and win a gold medal in the final after a close battle. Facing the Kosovar judoka Distria Kraniqi, Olympic champion in Tokyo in the under 48 kilos (the category just below Amandine’s), the clashes between the two competitors were always difficult, all the more so as the two champions know each other well, and sometimes train together. 

Amandine emerged victorious once again, however, also in the golden score period, thanks to a ground technique. Amandine Buchard was able to raise her arms, the bandage on her head bearing witness to the intensity of the combat. This victory is not yet an official ticket to the Olympic Games Paris 2024… let’s just say that it has opened the door extremely wide!