More than 15 months after her two Olympic gold medals in Tokyo, in under 63 kilos and during the team event, Clarisse Agbégnénou returns to competition this Saturday with the Club Champions League in Gori (Georgia). Mother of a little Athena (5 months), the judoka of the Red Star Club Champigny-sur-Marne is not pressuring herself for this comeback. She will fight in the top category of under 70 kilos. You thus begin the construction towards Paris 2024, where you will attempt the doubling. On the other hand, she is inflexible. No question of parting with her little girl. And she arranged everything for this.
RMC Sport: Clarisse Agbégnénou, what state of mind are you in on the eve of this return to competition? Stressed out ? Impatient? Happy ?
Clarisse Agbégnénou: I don’t have too many feelings. I tell myself “we will go”. My life as a mom is so fast that I can’t think of anything else. Maybe that’s a blessing in disguise. As with Champigny’s club and friends, it’s a pleasure.
Fighting for a comeback with your friends at RSC Champigny, maybe it’s easier?
That’s all. He’ll be a good guy, he’ll be great. We have a good team at the club. We will all be motivated.
Why are you coming back now?
Yeah, the club offered me. If he hadn’t proposed me, I don’t know if I would have participated in this competition. After receiving the proposal, I said that we would see step by step and that we would make a point in early November to know if I feel good and if I’m ready. After this point, I saw that I was training quite well, even if there is a lot to do. So if it’s to help the team and the club, it’s been quite a recovery before picking up on the slack next year.
“For someone who gave birth five months ago, I have nothing to reproach myself with”
During your pregnancy, then after giving birth, we saw you train a lot. You have left no room for a possible retreat.
No, I knew I was going to start over. As long as I gave birth properly, my child was healthy, I knew I would recover ahead of Paris 2024. When? I didn’t have an appointment in mind. I was waiting for my body to come back and for me to feel again. With the club it allows me to breathe another, more serene atmosphere. I didn’t expect to get it so fast. It will be cool and beautiful.
Did you find the same body as before pregnancy?
I still haven’t found the same body. It takes some time. As they say, nine months in, nine months out. I tell myself that in four months I will be in even better shape. For someone who gave birth five months ago, I have nothing to be ashamed of. I’m not telling myself I won’t make it. I know the body has a good memory. I have recovered well, with a good training pace for someone who gave birth five months ago. I am confident about this.
In which category will we see you in Georgia?
This weekend I will be seen in under 70 kilos. As I told the club, it’s a competition in which I won’t force myself to drop below 63 kilos even if there is a two kilo margin. The goal is to slowly return to weight while continuing to breastfeed. I breastfeed my baby 100%. I take step by step, slowly but surely going down. It’s a weight I want to install, not do big diets. I think I’m too old for that. I don’t have the strength and patience for big diets. I get off pound by pound with my nutritionist. Everything is planned for next year’s recovery. We’ll see about which races with the coaches.
“I never thought I would resume at the end of November”
How do you judge your optimal form?
It’s hard to say. I’m hard on myself. I would say 50%. I am climbing slowly. Come on, 45%.
Are we in a construction phase?
The idea is to say that next year I will start slowly. Which, mid-year and year-end 2023, I’m at 100% for the year 2024. That’s the goal.
This Saturday you won’t attach much importance to a defeat?
Yes. It doesn’t matter. It’s a team competition. We all carry a point, or not. We will save ourselves if necessary. I just want to have fun no matter what. I am a competitor, I will do everything to win. But if that doesn’t happen, no problem.
In your words we feel that you give yourself time.
Sure. I never thought I’d pick up again at the end of November after giving birth. Not everyone does. I do it with all my energy and my heart, it’s to take pleasure, signs, signs, even with the little one who follows me everywhere. It’s also been five months since I’ve gotten four hours of sleep straight. It’s step by step. It’s a story that says, “I’m stepping back into the competition.” I reset some settings, I have time. After these settings, we will tune in with the coaches so that I reach my best level for Paris 2024. Having the gold medal in Paris is what matters.
You say you don’t do full evenings. The day before the competition, are you going to leave your child with someone to fully rest?
It’s unthinkable. I breastfeed him 100%. She has never taken a bottle. I’ve never expressed my milk, she doesn’t know. I won’t do this to him the day before a race. It wouldn’t be beneficial to her and me. Second, it’s my strength. I prefer to continue spending my nights as I do. I get through my day very well. I’m here first for my daughter. The rest is more. I want us to experience this together. We will live it together.