Paris Grand Slam 2018: Five things we learned

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Paris Grand Slam 2018: Five things we learned

Beitragvon phutrung43 » Di 13. Feb 2018, 08:42

Rarely was the packed arena more raucous than when Clarisse Agbegnenou stepped out onto the mat.
Showcasing trademark strength and passion, the French middleweight (-63kg) judoka thrilled the crowds on the way to winning her fourth Paris Grand Slam title.

"It's really great," Agbegnenou told CNN Sport. "I'm proud on a personal level and I'm really happy for the public that came out here to watch.
"Sometimes, I was thinking to myself 'I cannot go on, I can't' — but just hearing them shout 'let's go Clarisse!' made me realize 'Yeah of course I can go, I can do it!'
"They were super supporters; that's why I love fighting the Paris Grand Slam."
As many as 15,000 spectators crowded into the arena known to locals as "Bercy"
As many as 15,000 spectators crowded into the arena known to locals as "Bercy"
Many regarded Agbegnenou as the favorite coming into the competition, but the 25-year-old reigning world champion shrugged off that pressure, adopting the underdog mentality despite her home advantage.
"I always tell myself that I'm not the biggest in the competition," said Agbegnenou. "For me, I was maybe the outsider, because I lost against the Japanese [Miku Tashiro] some months ago, before the new year."
For all her modesty, Agbegnenou's head-to-head lead against Tashiro now stands at 7:1. Still, few would argue with her when she insists the women's middleweight division possesses particular strength in depth.
"Not to say the other categories are not good, but I think this weight division is really competitive," said Agbegnenou, having regularly traded titles with Slovenia's Tina Trstenjak. "There are three, four or five girls that are always fighting against one another, but the rest are also pushing.
"I think this category is really hard, but it's good because it adds some spice!"
Japanese prodigy Uta Abe proves age is just a number
Already the youngest ever winner on the IJF World Tour, Japanese sensation Uta Abe proved she is more than just one for the future in Paris.
The 17-year-old was as fearless as she was relentless on her way to capturing the women's half-lightweight (-52kg) title, dispatching of both her first two opponents by ippon in under 10 seconds.
"Something I keep in mind is to never back down -- to always move forward and keep attacking," Abe told CNN Sport, having also taken gold at December's prestigious Tokyo Grand Slam.
Watching on, it was hard to believe this was her first Grand Slam assignment outside of Japan, but Abe has always looked destined for greatness.
Her uncle is 43-year-old Tadahiro Nomura, the only judoka in history to win three consecutive Olympic gold medals. Her brother Hifumi, more pertinently, is the reigning half-lightweight (-66kg) world champion.
"I started judo at age five and, ever since the first day, I fell in love with the sport," said Abe. "Since I was very young, I can remember my brother Hifumi practicing. He has always been a role model for me. I look up to him very highly."
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