Madeleine Malonga takes a big step towards Paris 2024, Teddy Riner barely wins final in Turkey

Madeleine Malonga marked a triumphant victory at the Grand Slam in Antalya, Turkey on March 31, 2024. After advancing to the quarterfinals on Sunday, she clenched her fist in celebration. This win ensured that Malonga would outperform her compatriot, Audrey Tcheuméo, who competed in the Grand Slam in Tbilisi a week prior. The two French judokas have been vying for a spot at the Paris 2024 Olympics in the -78kg category, where no French contender has been designated yet. Malonga, a silver medalist at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, pushed her advantage to the final where she defeated Alina Boehm, a two-time European champion.

Malonga, who is 30 years old and trains at the Etoile Sportive du Blanc-Menil in Seine-Saint-Denis, showcased her determination from the first match. She swiftly defeated her opponents one after another, demonstrating her skill and agility in the competition. In the decisive quarterfinal match against the Portuguese judoka Patricia Sampaio, Malonga’s speed and precision secured her victory in just 45 seconds.

In the semifinals, Malonga faced off against Anna-Maria Wagner, the third-ranked judoka in the world and a bronze medalist at the Beijing Olympics. With unwavering determination, Malonga emerged victorious and moved on to the final, where she met Alina Boehm, the reigning European champion. Malonga’s fierce spirit and athleticism led her to defeat Boehm in a swift 42 seconds, claiming the top spot on the podium.

Despite her remarkable performance, Malonga’s Olympic fate remains uncertain and will be decided by the French judo federation. Throughout her journey, Malonga has displayed unwavering dedication and ambition, striving to secure her spot at the upcoming Olympics in Paris. Her perseverance and strength have been evident in every competition, reflecting her unwavering commitment to reaching her goals.

Meanwhile, Julia Tolofua, who was not selected for the Olympics in the +78kg category, made a triumphant return to competition at the Grand Slam in Antalya. Following a shoulder surgery in September 2023, Tolofua had not competed since her defeat against Romane Dicko in Budapest. Tolofua’s victory in Antalya, after months of recovery and training, showcases her resilience and determination to succeed despite setbacks.

Teddy Riner, a seasoned judoka and two-time Olympic champion, demonstrated his dominance in the competition, securing his place at the upcoming Olympics. Riner’s strategic participation in the event aimed to test his skills and secure a favorable ranking for the Olympic tournament. Despite facing tough competition, Riner managed to claim victory in the final against Tatsuru Saito, a formidable Japanese opponent.

The Grand Slam in Antalya showcased the exceptional talent and determination of these judokas as they strive towards their Olympic dreams. Each victory and defeat serves as a testament to their dedication and passion for the sport, inspiring fans and fellow athletes alike. As they continue on their journey, these judokas exemplify the true spirit of perseverance and sportsmanship in the world of judo.

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