Abu Dhabi World Cup | Madeleine Malonga: “I don’t want to say that I became myself again”

It is time to move on. The Madeleine Malonga – Audrey Tcheuméo distance match lived. At least the particularly energetic one that we have experienced in recent months in the race for Olympic selection for the Paris Games. It sometimes turned into direct confrontation – and a bit of controversy – at the Grand Slam in Paris last February. It ended with a final comparison from a distance, a dilemma resolved clearly. A week after her rival’s 5th place in Taschkent, Madeleine Malonga won the Antalya Grand Slam on March 1st.

Today, Madeleine Malonga and Audrey Tcheuméo have finished with this story. At 30, “Mado” offered himself another chance to see a final. And to win it, three years after letting the gold slip away, in Tokyo. At 34, “Tcheum”, vice-champion in Rio in 2016, has more surely given up on the rings.

Malonga in gold in Antalya and on the way to the Paris Games

General points hunting in -78 kg

However, they will have time to experience other dates together. They have been crossing paths for years in -78 kg and will perhaps even face each other at the World Championships in Abu Dhabi. Their respective levels are such that the French Judo Federation has entered them both in this category where the competition is very high.

Madeleine Malonga and Audrey Tcheuméo also have in common having been world champions, in 2019 for the first, in 2011 for the second. Their trajectories have been intertwined for a long time, they also follow each other closely in the world ranking of the category (8th and 10th) but, apart from that, almost everything will separate them for a few months. Malonga is in the United Arab Emirates to progress in the hierarchy of Olympic seeds (the famous ranking list), Tcheuméo present in the continuity of his recent European title.

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Sent to the final, Malonga settles for silver at the Masters

“I don’t want to say that I became myself again”

It is therefore not really a question of emulation but the wink of history awaits them, and this is not to displease the staff of the French Team. A tricolor final? “I’m signing right away !says Frédérique Jossinet, high level manager at France Judo. I would find it great, for these two athletes already, with very different objectives from each other. Madeleine is an athlete who has a lot of maturity, who has won a lot of titles, who knows how to prepare, who has a very strong mind – we saw that during the season.”

“It was very hardconfirms the Blanc Mesnil licensee. It was almost a year where, with each outing, I had a bit of a sword of Damocles hanging over my head. It was certainly a relief but I’m not going to stop at a selection. Somehow, I don’t want to say that I became myself again. Even in the years that are a little more difficult, it’s still me. I wouldn’t say I came back. It’s me, I’m still the same person, maybe better, because these difficult times taught me more about myself, allowed me to face all that and be better the day I had to snap like in Antalya.”

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Malonga recounts the moment she got stuck on the ground: “We see the medal slipping away”

“Just one more opponent”

“Audrey performed extremely well at the European Championshipsunderlines Frédérique Jossinet, 2004 Olympic vice-champion. She’s one more competitor, who must push her to the next level because Audrey is quite an opponent. And then, if there is a final between them, may the best one win! We will especially learn lessons from this for Madeleine for the Olympic Games.”

“That she is selected is legitimate: she still won the European Championships, supports “Mado”. I did not expect her to be there or not there. She is just another opponent , just like the Israeli (Inbar Lanir), the German (Anna-Maria Wagner) or another.”

There is no question of having the wrong objective or target. Reality dominates everything and appears in the figures. “Madeleine is today eighth in the ranking list, she needs to get points, confirm all the performances she had over all the world athletes in the last competition in particular, prioritizes Frédérique Jossinet. She is in the process of to gain strength. She must secure her place in the eight, at least, or even in the four with a title.” So much for the concrete objective, if one were needed.

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Malonga: “Whether you are a champion or not, sport is the school of life”

Malonga needs a break

Madeleine Malonga mentioned world No. 1 Inbar Lanir but she is not in Abu Dhabi. On the other hand, the other members of the Top 8 are almost all in the game: the German Anna-Maria Wagner (n°2), the Italian Alice Bellandi (n°3), the Chinese Ma Zhenzhao (n°4) and the Dutch Guusje Steinhuis (n°7); not counting the Blues. Finally, only the German Alina Boehm (n°5) and the Japanese Rika Takayama (n°6), selected for the Games, are absent.

The games promise to be fought and after that, Malonga will have to rest. “I haven’t had time to cut yet,” she admits. “I’m going to cut after the world championships. To recover from Antalya, it took me a good week. And then I had to start again. “training because I don’t like making long cuts: afterwards it’s harder.” And to admit: “I wouldn’t like there to be any slack, but if it happens so be it.”

The Antalya verdict will not be everything. “I don’t think it’s an obligation to perform at the World Championships to perform at the Gamesshe warns. Judo is not math. If on the day of the competition I feel good, I’m in good shape, it can go to the end. And if it doesn’t go to the end, that won’t stop me from going all the way at the Games.” It is the experience of the last few months that speaks.



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