Agbégnénou happy to sleep at the hotel as long as I can stay with my daughter

Clarisse Agbégnénou expressed her satisfaction with the solution found by the CNOSF for sportswomen who will be breastfeeding during the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris. The judo champion praised the availability of rooms in a hotel located near the Olympic village in Saint-Denis.

Whether it’s the hotel or the Olympic village, sportswomen who are breastfeeding their children, like Clarisse Agbégnénou, will have the choice of accommodation during the Olympics. “Anything is fine with me as long as I can stay with my daughter,” said the judoka. Becoming a mother in June 2022, the 31-year-old athlete, who is aiming for a second individual Olympic title in Paris, has been accompanied by her daughter everywhere she goes.

In January of this year, she took advantage of Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Insep to make a personal request to the president: she wanted her daughter to be by her side at the Olympic village.

Ultimately, due to regulations, her daughter Athéna will not be able to sleep at the sacred village but the French Olympic Committee has proposed a solution: rooms in a hotel located near the Olympic village in Saint-Denis will be made available for breastfeeding sportswomen.

On Friday, the six-time world champion in the -63 kg category said she was satisfied with this solution. “Anything is fine with me as long as I can stay with my daughter. So if I am offered to stay at the hotel in the evenings so that I can be with my daughter and sleep with her, it’s a solution that works for me,” commented Agbégnénou to a few French media outlets on the sidelines of a reception at the French embassy in Japan, where the French team is currently undergoing a training camp.

“To take into account parenthood,” Agbégnénou sought to breastfeed her daughter until she weans herself. “This is not yet the case, so I am following her. I made sure that physically I could feel good, because there is inevitably a level of fatigue, there is also in me the high-level athlete. But as a mom who has to be very present for my daughter, I asked to have the possibility of having my daughter with me during the Olympic Games,” she continued.

“It will be my third Games and I know how it goes. We are all girls together, so I didn’t want to disturb the girls, but I couldn’t imagine doing these Games without my daughter knowing that I am still breastfeeding her.” According to Astrid Guyart, general secretary of the French Olympic Committee (CNOSF), this solution presented at the end of February allows the offering of “the best conditions of balance” to the competitors and to “take into account parenthood.”

There will also be a 100 m2 family space in this hotel where parents can spend time with their children of any age. This initiative, presented as unprecedented, will start from the opening of the village on July 18, 2024, and should therefore facilitate the lives of young sportswomen who are trying to balance their high-level careers with motherhood.

Also a mother of a young daughter, British judoka Nekuda Smythe-Davis praised the fact that the issue was brought to the forefront by Agbégnénou. “She has had her daughter with her from the start, so I don’t see why the Olympics would be different,” she told AFP last February.

“It may seem a bit strange because no one has done it before her, but I think she is paving the way. There always has to be someone who does things first to say, ‘Ah okay, we can actually do things differently.'”

The 30-year-old world medalist explained that she stopped breastfeeding upon returning to training on medical advice. “But seeing Clarisse, I think there may have been another way to do it. I think there is a lack of knowledge on the subject because very few people have done it. So it’s amazing that she is breaking stereotypes. If I could do it again, maybe I would have breastfed longer. I would have liked to know that I could do it.” For Sarah-Léonie Cysique, Olympic silver medalist in Tokyo in the -57 kg category, “if one day, I have the desire to combine both, I see that it is possible.”

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