L’esprit du Judo
Gabi Juan / Hajime Judo
Loic Pietri officially announced his comeback on social media. The former World Champion U81kg stepped up to U90kg at the end of 2016,. A category in which the 30-year-old from Nice won six medals at international championships during the previous Olympiad. A choice with Tokyo in sight of course but also Paris in 2024. Our partner of L’ Esprit du Judo interviewed Loic for a bit of explanation.
When did you make this decision and why this choice?
I decided to drop down to U81kg during the Christmas holidays. I took stock of my last four years in U90kg. I had injuries and the fact that I wasn’t given a chance (four Grand Slams and Grands Prix in four years). The health crisis is also complicating things since the prospects for outings on the circuit are very vague.
Suddenly, with the prospect of the Tokyo Olympics (and even Paris 2024), the fact that I proved that I was performing in -U81kg during the previous Olympiad (three world medals and three consecutive European medals), the fact also that I have confidence in my ability to immediately slam medals if I am given my chance in Grand Slam or in the international championship, the fact that there is no clear leader who has emerged in this category and that the Olympic race is not played, I told myself that we should not hesitate.
So, where are you physically?
To be honest, I have never felt so sharp! I do a lot of aerobic work to lose weight. Currently I am at 84kg and am not at all worried about being able to drop to 81kg on the day of the weigh-in. I feel really powerful and without any sores. Anyway, I’m ready to go into battle and hit the necessary perf ’to qualify for Tokyo. The deadline is certainly short, but I remember that Walide Khyar qualified for Rio in six months. Besides, competition is inherently a good thing at the very top level. The one I knew with Alain Schmitt pushed me to the top. So being three in the race will be, I think, necessarily positive. I just have to be given the opportunity.
Precisely, have you discussed it with the new staff?
I asked for a quick meeting with Christophe Gagliano (new manager of the men’s team) and Larbi Benboudaoud (new director of high performance). It was when I got back from vacation, so three weeks ago, that I told Franck Chambily (then responsible for the men) my decision to go down to -81kg. I didn’t get any particular feedback from him unlike foreign athletes who told me they couldn’t wait to see me on the circuit again (smile). I was not selected for Israel, Uzbekistan and Turkey. But there is still Georgia and a place in Israel and then the European and World Championships. I say to myself: what do they have to lose? A flight ticket ? I want to pay them back if I don’t make a medal. I know FFJudo is in financial difficulty but if that’s the only problem, it’s easy to solve.
On the National Sports Agency, I don’t like to brag, but I’m the last men’s world champion (juniors and seniors) with Teddy. I proved at the previous Olympiad that I was among the best. And therefore my chances of qualifying for the Olympics are quite credible. Besides, when I see that Nagase or Valois-Fortier, with whom I was fighting for the title before Rio, continue to do well, I have no doubt that I can still be competitive.