She wanted the gold and nothing else. In Tokyo on July 27, it took her just thirty-seven seconds of added time to sweep Slovenian Tina Trstenjak for the coveted medal in the under 63 kilogram category. At the end of the fight, the two rivals fell into each other’s arms. “We are fighting on the mat, we all want the medal, but there are values. Tina is a friend ”, she will declare thereafter.
At the Rio Olympics in 2016, Tina Trstenjak left him only the money. Clarisse Agbégnénou was annoyed: “It’s not the right one [médaille]. ” At home, she will hide the reward behind the others, as if to forget this bad memory. “Only gold interested him”, remembers his agent and friend, the ex-judokate Nadia Benabdelouahed, in “Marie-Claire”. This culture of winning applies to all areas of his life: “Even for the Galette des Rois, she wants to win”, recalls his mother, Pauline Agbégnénou.
At 28, the one compared to Teddy Riner is the most successful French judokate: Olympic gold in Tokyo alone and as a team, five world championship titles, two world silver medals, five European titles and a silver medal at the Rio Olympics. And she hopes that the women’s medals of these last Games will make little girls want to dismiss themselves.
Clarisse Agbégnénou and the French judo team at the Trocadéro Olympic Village, in Paris, on August 2, 2021, upon their return from Tokyo. (STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP)
During the competition periods, we often come across Clarisse Agbégnénou with a helmet screwed on the ears, listening to afro trap. A way to feel “At home, untouchable”, she explains. Before the mixed team event, the French also set the mood in the warm-up room by playing loud music.
“Gnougnou”, as it is nicknamed, has three brothers, including a twin, Aurélien. Daughter of an administrative and financial manager and a scientist from Togo, she was born in Rennes in 1992. Very premature, she spent a month in an incubator and a few days in a coma after an operation for a kidney malformation. “When she woke up, in a deep breath, I remember the doctor saying that my daughter was a fighter”, says his mother in “The Team”.
6. Martial arts
Clarisse Agbégnénou was a turbulent child. At the age of 9, after having tried athletics and classical dance, she chose judo, pushed by her school principal who wanted, to channel her energy, to see her play a combat sport. She started at the Martial Arts club in Asnières, in the Paris region. At 14, she left the family home to join the pole of the French team in Orléans.
7. Warrant Officer
When she is not on a tatami mat, Clarisse Agbégnénou wears the uniform of a gendarme. With a hundred other top athletes, she has been part of the Army of Champions since 2014. She was even promoted in April, raised from the rank of sergeant to that of adjutant.
Clarisse Agbégnénou against the Slovenian Tina Trstenjak in the final of less than 63 kilos, at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, July 27, 2021. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
The announcement of the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics last year annihilated the sportswoman. “I cried a lot”, she said before the summer. During confinement, on Reunion Island, she took up yoga, boxing and jujitsu. At the start of the 2020 school year, she resumed studies at HEC Paris to become a life coach. The sportswoman even took her memory with her to Japan, to work there during her rest periods. Due date: September 13.
“What perseverance! It’s a ringworm “, says her mother, who could not make the trip to Tokyo because of Covid. If her parents support her, they admit that they don’t understand everything by the rules of the game: “You don’t know anything about judo, so when you see her on the ground, you never know if she won or lost. “ Her mother was quick to congratulate her daughter after her victory: “Well done to her, well done to the parents too, we’re going to be a little selfish. […] She implements the advice, that’s perfect. May she continue to listen to me! I like her a lot, she knows it. “
Among other commitments, Clarisse Agbégnénou, very active on social networks, tackled the taboo of rules, particularly strong in high-level sport. She went through the psychosis of the blood stain on the white kimono before putting on period panties. After advising this protection to her comrades, she signed her own collection in collaboration with the Réjeanne brand. Some of his models carry this slogan: “Believe in yourself. “