News

The latest Judo News offered by JudoInside.com

Judo in the time of Covid-19: Amandine Buchard

22 Mar 2020 14:55

 by Oon Yeoh and JudoInside    JudoInside.com / judo news, results and photos
20200223_dusseldorf_hve_day1_prelims_8177_amandine_buchard

Amandine Buchard of France is the current World No. 1 at U52kg. She is a World and European medalist and has won the gold medal in seven IJF World Tour events (two Grand Slams and five Grand Prix). She is currently in lock-down in her apartment in Paris. Judopartners JudoInside and JudoCrazy asked Amandine about her current state of mind.

JIC: With France in a tight lock-down, are you able to do any kind of judo training at all?

AB: No, all judo clubs are closed, as is INSEP, our national sports institute. It’s not possible to do any judo training because we are in a kind of quarantine. I don’t go out of my house, not even for a run. The only time I ever set foot outside is to take out the trash and to go to the supermarket or pharmacy.

JIC: How well have you adapted to the lock-down?

AB: I cope as best as I can. At home I have a guest room which I have converted into a gym. I ordered some fitness equipment from Amazon so that I can still do some form of training and keep in good physical condition. Otherwise, I would just go crazy.

JIC: When was the last time you did some judo?

AB: The last time I did judo was a technical session at INSEP with Mélanie Clément, our -48kg player, and our coach Lucie Decosse on March 12. As for training in a group setting, it was at my club on March 4, in preparation for the French Team Championship which was to take place on March 7 and 8. It was cancelled of course.

JIC: Are you watching lots of judo videos while in isolation?

AB: I watch a lot of judo videos because I like watching ippons from various tournaments. But I don't do a lot of video analysis of my opponents… almost not at all.

JIC: Don’t you want to analyse how someone like Abe Uta fights?

AB: I might watch a few of her fights but in general I don’t like basing my judo on what the other player is doing and then trying to adapt to their judo. I prefer to work on my own judo.

JIC: What is a typical day for you like before and after the lock-down?

AB: Before all of this happened, a typical day would have me doing physical fitness  training in the mornings. I would usually stay at the training centre to eat some  food and chill with my friends until it's time for the evening session, which  is focused on randori. When that is done, I would either go out with friends or we might head to my home and relax – have some Apéro, play some Nintendo Switch or watch something on Netflix. But nowadays, while in isolation, my schedule is completely different. I don’t bother to set my alarm anymore. I wake up when I wake up. I motivate myself to train. Then, I eat and just spend a lot of time on the sofa thinking about nothing in particular. Sometimes I’ll take a nap or play Nintendo or do some spring cleaning. It can get quite depressing. I feel like a lion caged inside a box.

JIC: Are you keeping in touch with your teammates and coaches?

AB: Yes, I stay in contact via WhatsApp and Instagram with my coaches, teammates and family members. We call each other, we send funny videos and photos to make each other laugh… anything just to make our days a little brighter.

JIC: You have already qualified for the Olympics. How will you feel if Tokyo 2020 is cancelled or postponed?

AB: Just thinking about it breaks my heart. The Olympics is my biggest dream, my reason for living. I had missed the 2016 Rio Olympic Games because I was unwell at the time. I don't want to miss another Olympic Games.

JIC: What was wrong with you during the Rio period?

AB: You could say my whole body was destroyed at the time. I had  small injuries everywhere. I was also in a very deep depression, so much so that I had to see a  psychologist. The pressure of being a top athlete coupled with the drastic dieting I had to do to make weight was too much for me. I had  developed eating and sleeping disorders, I had behavioral and memory issues. It  started in 2015 and it took about two years before I could heal myself.

I would go

JIC: Kaori Yamaguchi, a member of the Japan Olympic Committee has said that the Olympics should be cancelled because it would put players at risk. Would you be willing to take that risk?

AB: I am aware that the health and safety issue is much more important than the Olympic Games. But I can tell you this, if they decide to hold the Olympics as scheduled, I would go.

JIC: Your judo has evolved a lot over the years. These days you do a lot of newaza with that special turnover of yours. How did that come about?

AB: Yes, my judo has evolved. I came to specialize in newaza thanks to my time spent at the International Judo Centre in Valencia, Spain in 2016, when I went there to recuperate after my physical and mental breakdown. I can’t thank Sugoi Uriarte and Laura Gomez enough, as well as their entire club, for welcoming me into their judo family. It's what saved me, quite frankly.

JIC: So, you didn’t invent that turnover technique? 

AB: No, no… I learned that technique from Sugoi. Actually, many Spanish judokas do it: Ana Perez Box, another -52kg player, does it. So does Julia Figueroa, a -48kg player. Daniel Perez Roman, a -66kg player also likes to do this technique.

JIC: You’re able to pull off some amazing ashiwaza from time to time. How did you train to be so good at timing?

AB: To be honest, I don’t do any special training for timing. I do ashiwaza based on instinct and feeling. A lot of my judo is based on feeling rather than on rehearsed drills. I’m a very instinctive player.

JIC: For tachi-waza your main technique these days seems to be drop kata-guruma to the side. How did you pick up that technique?

AB:  That’s something I’ve been doing for a long time now. I first learned  how to do it by asking some of the boys during my cadet years. At first, I  couldn’t make it work. I would hurt my head each time I tried it. But  eventually I got it and now I can do it from all kinds of angles and all kinds of positions. It’s my  most effective technique.

JIC: Isn’t that the throw you used to catch Uta Abe in the final of the 2019 Osaka Grand Slam?

AB: Yes, that’s right!

JIC: After beating her in Osaka last year, you lost to her in the final of the recent Dusseldorf Grand Slam. What happened there?

AB: Abe is my greatest rival. She’s really way up there. But I feel I’m gradually catching up with her. In Osaka, I was very motivated to win and my trusty kata-guruma came through for me. In Dusseldorf, I had just come out of a minor injury that I had picked up at a training camp in Austria. I nearly got eliminated in the earlier rounds. I eventually made it to the final but I felt like only 50% of my usual self, so I wasn’t able to fight well. I look forward to meeting Abe again, when I’m in better form. 

JIC: You’re only 24 but you've been fighting at a very high level for nearly a decade. Do you ever feel worn out?

AB: Since young, I’ve had this strong determination to become the  best. I really wanted to make my father proud because he’s everything to me. I  found success in judo at an early age and joined the French Seniors Team as a  teen. It's very punishing physically, training to be a top athlete but I  don’t feel ready to stop yet. I won’t stop until I achieve my biggest dream, which  is to win an Olympic gold medal.

JIC: Any words of encouragement to other judo players around the world who are also stuck in a lock-down?

AB:  It’s important to follow the quarantine guidelines. The more serious and reasonable we are about this, the faster the situation will improve  and things will go back to normal. Don’t be selfish, I know that it’s not  easy to be in isolation. Look at me, I’m locked up in my apartment,  alone, without a balcony even. It’s really not easy at all but I follow the rules because it’s for  everyone’s good. Be strong and be united in this difficult time. We will all get  through it. 

Follow JudoCrazy's COVID stories here

Fundraising with GoGetFunding

Related judoka and events

Related Judo Photos

  • Uta Abe (JPN), Amandine Buchard (FRA) - Grand Slam Düsseldorf (2020, GER) - © JudoInside.com, judo news, results and photos
  • Uta Abe (JPN), Amandine Buchard (FRA) - Grand Slam Düsseldorf (2020, GER) - © Christian Fidler
  • Amandine Buchard (FRA), Uta Abe (JPN), Chishima Maeda (JPN), Ai Shishime (JPN) - Grand Slam Osaka (2019, JPN) - © IJF Marina Mayorova, International Judo Federation

Related Judo Videos

Related Judo News

20200221_gs_duesseldorf_km_podium_52kg_place_1_uta_abe_jpn

Abe Uta avenges Osaka loss to Buchard

21 Feb 2020 19:35

World champion Abe Uta extended her one-sided head-to-head record over her nearest rival and world number one Amandine Buchard (FRA) to 5-1 in a reverse of their last meeting at the Osaka Grand Slam in November. Read more

2019_qingdao_masters_amandine_buchard

French women lead the last World Ranking of 2019

19 Dec 2019 09:00

Looking at the World Ranking, this year wasn’t so different than 2018. Especially in the women’s division some of the same leaders top the IJF World Ranking. Not surprisingly World Champions Daria Bilodid and Clarisse Agbegnenou who retained title in Tokyo reign in their categories. Read more

20191212_ijfmasters_ijf_final_edf_shishime_ai

Ai Shishime wins the Masters at her first attempt

12 Dec 2019 13:45

Former world champion Shishime Ai of Japan defeated world number one Amandine Buchard (FRA) to win World Judo Masters gold as she holds on to her feint hope of selection for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Shishime, who is behind double world champion Abe Uta (JPN) in the Japanese pecking order, made sure that Buchard ended her day on the losing side of a Masters final for the third time. Read more

20191122_osaka_52_gs_buchard_amandine_larbi_benboudaoud

Amandine Buchard stuns teen wonder Abe Uta

22 Nov 2019 14:55

World number one Amandine Buchard of France handed world champion Abe Uta (JPN) her first loss on the IJF World Judo Tour since her debut event in 2016. Three-time Grand Slam winner Abe had won all 48 of her contests since then but conceded her three-year winning-streak in added time. The 19-year-old was thrown after four minutes of golden score by the plucky Frenchwoman with a modified kata-guruma for a waza-ari score. Read more

20171118_thehaguegp_hve_prelims_joao_martinho_por_241a5824

Portuguese judo celebrates best year ever

16 Nov 2019 18:30

Sporting Clube de Portugal were crowned double European Judo Champion after beating Yawara-Newa in the men's Champions League final 3-2. In Odivelas best clubs of Europe were gathered for the annual Champions League for clubs, which featured the 8 Best Men's and Women's Teams in Europe. Read more