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Mental health is a key asset for top judo players

28 Jan 2020 08:40

 Anthony Diao - L'esprit du Judo    Mario Krvavac
20120731_Martine Dupond_Gevrise Emane_01

The latest edition of French Magazine L’Esprit du Judo pays a lot of attention to the metal health of the judoka. With various judoka the French reporters guide you through the best mental preparation for our sport of judo. This is how you can win medals. Famous tennis player Martina Navratilova said: “A champion isn’t known by his ability to win when he plays well, but by his ability to win when he plays bad.”

Remarkable is the mental growth of Gévrise Emane during her career. Anthony Diao described her panick attack and how she won world titles and Olympic bronze….afterall.

London, July 31, 2012. Two hours before entering into her second Olympics, Gévrise Emane has a panick attack. How did the French woman managed to deal with this mental situation behind closed doors, and still ended with bronze around her neck? Let’s turn back on one of these endless days when it’s only at nightfall that the sun, at last, starts to rise.

When her thick-hemmed socks enter the London ExCeL Arena tatami at dawn on this last Tuesday of July 2012, Gévrise Emane is a kind of U63kg version of Serena Williams. Reigning World and double European champion, double winner of Paris Grand Slam, her 44 winnings over 45 matches during her last ten international and team competitions gives her a much bigger aura than her one meter sixty two height. Clarisse Agbegnenou, her ten-years-younger-promising national rival, didn’t cut the weight in January for the Almaty Masters and got conveniently suspended by the French Federation – seven years and four World titles later, the young talent had done more than catching up with her.

Back to London, that morning. On the way to the stadium, Marie-Josée Emane had already warned Christian Chaumont of her older sister’s burst of stress. The Levallois SC coach hence repeated to “Gev’” she had “nothing to prove”, that this competition was “just one more competition” and that, at worst, she could trust the “tough physical preparation done together”… Despite this, tears spurted out. But if there is one lesson Gévrise learned from Beijing, it is from the mistake she made that day. When she believed that she could bear alone such emotional charge, which fell again on her shoulders like a three hundred kilos piano. So she crosses the mat and goes to find Martine Dupond: “Martine, I feel bad. I need you.”

That London’s epic? Five fights, one hansokumake, four golden scores, zero impact and flags rising up her way three times out of four. A staff and family overwhelming support, too. Happiness? “No. A major relief to have finally finished it” she laughs, proving wrong those who labelled her the “either first, either first round” girl, since she had moved down to the U63kg category. This time Gévrise went all the way to the end, yes, but to the end of herself… “Each one moves on with oneself”, philosophizes that champion who, in the next Olympiad, achieved to win both the European and the World title again in her former category of the U70kg. “It’s in Astana '15 then in Rio '16 that finally I felt in peace. My only Olympic medal isn’t of the metal I expected but, deep inside, I know it’s right price. This bronze medal, trust me, is worth its weight in gold”.

The whole article can be seen online in L’Esprit du Judo.

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  • Gévrise Emane (FRA) - Olympic Games London (2012, GBR) - © Mario Krvavac
  • Gévrise Emane (FRA) - Olympic Games London (2012, GBR) - © Mario Krvavac
  • Urska Zolnir (SLO), Lili Xu (CHN), Yoshie Ueno (JPN), Gévrise Emane (FRA) - Olympic Games London (2012, GBR) - © Mario Krvavac

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