Multiple French champion Kilian Le Blouch is still capable of winning World level events, on the other hand he is developing as a coach and working with fine French talent. Last year March he won the Grand Slam of Ekaterinburg, so what is his focus? JudoCrazy’s Oon Yeoh talks to the experience French fighter as a follow up on the story with Reda Seddouki.
JIC: How has the Covid-19 situation affected you?
KLB: I haven’t seen my friends and family for a long time. I haven’t been able to do judo — as a competitor and a coach — for a long time now too. It’s very disruptive but we are trying to find solutions.
JIC: You’re both a competitor and a coach. Isn’t that rather unusual, even in France?
KLB: Well, many judo athletes also coach children, so that is quite common. But to coach other high-level athletes, that is not so common. But it works well for me. You could say that I’m also in training when I coach my athletes.
JIC: Do you do randori with your athletes?
KLB: Yes, every session. Especially with Walide Khyar and Reda Seddouki because our weights are almost similar but I do with others too.
JIC: What happens if you lose to them?
KLB: Sometimes they beat me in randori and that’s fine. It might be a lot harder for me to accept if they did that in competition. But we joke about it all the time.
JIC: What would happen if you had to face one of your students in competition?
KLB: I hope that won’t happen because it would really be awkward. I really don’t know.
JIC: How much training do you do?
KLB: I train a lot, at least 20 hours a week, minimum.
JIC: Does that include the time you spend coaching?
KLB: No, that is my own personal training.
JIC: What’s your training philosophy?
KLB: I like to work very hard and then do cool things the next day. That way, I associate suffering with pleasure.
JIC: What’s your coaching philosophy?
KLB: You have to give a lot to receive a lot in return. And don’t be afraid to rely on others. Success requires teamwork.
JIC: What three qualities are most important to being a good coach?
KLB: Be attentive, have empathy and be a man of your word.
JIC: Who are some of your most promising young talent?
KLB: We have a lot of promising athletes at our club but to name a few, I would say Reda Seddouki at -66kg, Francis Damier at -90kg, Shirine Boukli at -48kg and Laura Fuseau at +78kg
JIC: Why do you think judo is so popular in France?
KLB: Accessibility is an important factor. There are judo clubs everywhere. It also helps that judo is a sport with strong moral and educational values. So, parents like their kids to do this sport.
JIC: In France, top judokas are full-time athletes. Where do they get their income from?
KLB: Usually a few different sources. Top athletes have contracts with state employers to give them their base salaries. They also get some funding from their clubs as well as corporate sponsors. Lastly, those who get good results in top events will get bonuses from the federation. Top French players get enough income to live well but we’re not talking about astronomical sums.
JIC: You got your first Grand Slam gold in Ekaterinburg last year. Is it true you were never a champion as a cadet or a junior?
KLB: Yes, I’m a late bloomer. I didn’t do well in my cadet or junior years but I worked hard and never gave up. And when my time came, I won.
JIC: You had qualified for the Olympics before the postponement happened. Are you looking forward to Tokyo 2021?
KLB: The Games are my ultimate goal, just like any other judoka. I look forward to working hard towards that goal in the coming year.
JIC: You are 30 this year. Have you given some thoughts as to how much longer you wish to compete?
KLB: I think I will compete for another year or two. After that I would like to focus more on coaching.
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The U66kg category will take place at the Last individual day of the Olympic Games at 25 July 2021.