Madeleine Malonga: From Qualifying for the Paris Olympics to the Expectations Ahead

Competing with Audrey Tcheuméo in the -78 kg category, Madeleine Malonga was selected to compete in the Paris Olympic Games, to the detriment of her compatriot. The judoka speaks to RMC Sport following this qualification.

Madeleine, that’s it, you are officially qualified for the Paris Olympic Games. What is your first feeling?

The first feeling? It’s ‘phew, it’s okay I did it’. First step completed. Now, focus on the end goal.

What is your objective?

The Olympic gold medal.

Do you think about it more now or is there something special now?

I was already thinking about it before. I would say that now it is more concrete. Because before I could think about it but to be, you had to be selected. Now that there is the selection, it is more concrete.

How were these last weeks of qualifying, during which you had to fight with Audrey Tcheuméo?

I will say that mentally it was very hard. After Paris, we had to remobilize. It was harder after Paris than after Europe, when I had completely failed. I lose in the first round. After Paris, it was hard because it was somewhat half-heartedly announced that the selection would be at that time. We had to digest all that. And at the same time the aftershock of mental tension at its maximum. Thanks to my club, I isolated myself a little. I went to prepare for this Antalya Grand Slam with my trainer. I took refuge in work, I think that’s what helped me to keep going. And in the end it worked and it’s so cool.

How are you handling Audrey’s competition week? Do you follow his fights?

No I never am, I can’t. I prefer to follow from a distance while looking at the results. Even at the end of her competition, she finished 5th, there was a little sigh of relief. I tell myself that she didn’t win. But at the same time I say to myself ‘ok she did her competition but it’s up to me to do mine too’. I could very well have missed the first round, that was not the objective. It was just as much pressure.

How did you feel during the competition week?

I thought I was pretty cool. I was trying not to be on the issue. If I had been on that I could have missed it. You had to tell me that it was a prep competition. ‘Just go all out, be yourself.’ That was the only watchword and it paid off, it’s great.

And at the moment of victory, what was your feeling?

‘It’s done, so well’. I was deeply happy to have won. This competition is more important to me than the stakes. I think it has a positive impact for the future. That’s really what I told myself. There, normally it’s good, but you never know (smile).

There was this image in Paris, where Audrey Tcheuméo did not want to shake your hand. Do you understand this anger?

Everyone does what they have to manage their frustrations. It wouldn’t have been my way of doing things, it was his way. There is nothing to say. I can only respect. It was his choice to do this. It’s not great. I didn’t expect more or less… Well, let’s still use our hands. We are French, we are at the Paris tournament, it is our audience, judo is still a sport with real values. Then she decided to do this…

Have you had any discussions with her since the selection?

No not at all, I was on vacation. The girls were in preparation for the European Championships. So I will meet the girls on Monday at training.

Is there any apprehension about seeing her again?

No. It’s super complicated because it’s the Olympics. She wanted it just as much as I did. But it is also high-level sport. They made a choice. I don’t think I deserved my place. I fought. I won the competition, there are rules, a selection path. It’s sport, that’s how it is. I’m proud of my selection: I’m not going to lower my head or be embarrassed, I didn’t steal it.

There is now a weight lifted, more serenity?

Yes, there will be more serenity, that’s the word. It’s okay, it’s done, I’m in preparation.

What is your program now?

I’m going to meet the coaches and we’ll take stock. And we’ll see which competition I’m going to go to.

What difference does it make to have the Olympics at home?

The public. It’s going to be amazing. I have the image of the crowd after the 2021 Games, at the Trocadéro. It was incredible. Everyone is screaming and happy. Sport brings so much together. It is an immense pride to represent France at the Paris Olympics.

And there is this date, August 1, first day of competition… Is it engraved everywhere?

It is not engraved everywhere. I took a good look at it a few days ago to find out. I said to myself, ‘But when is it actually?’ There, it gets into my head so that everything I do today is optimized, effective for August 1st.

Is there any excitement?

Yes and no. Somehow there are still 100 days left. You have to be as excited as possible on August 1st. It’s more when I see my loved ones that I am. They think it’s great.

There is also an opening ceremony, which promises to be special…

I think it’s going to be amazing. I want to enjoy every moment. It’s not every day the Olympics at home. I have to take advantage. I tend to be very focused on my goals.

And make your family proud? Will everyone be there?

I hope they can be there despite limited places. I didn’t want to buy a place before being selected. I hope there will be enough places for everyone to attend.

Comments collected by Léna Marjak

2024-04-12 18:23:45
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