Unbreakable Spirit: Clarisse Agbegnenou’s Triumph in Judo and Life

Clarisse Agbegnenou (Credit: InsideTheGames)

Born to Fight: The Unstoppable Rise of Judo Legend Clarisse Agbegnenou

Clarisse Agbegnenou has been a fighter from the very start. Since her birth, she has embodied the spirit of a fighter. With two Olympic gold medals (2020) and six World Championships in judo, her story is one of relentless resilience and unwavering determination.

A Fighter from Birth

In an exclusive interview with Olympics.com, she revealed, “When I was born, I couldn’t breathe. I was basically dead, and they resuscitated me. I underwent surgery and was in a coma for almost a month. They even asked my parents if they could unplug me, but they wanted to wait a bit longer, and one day I suddenly woke up!” Because of this, people say that Agbegnenou was born a fighter, having fought for her life from the start. Reflecting on her journey, Agbegnenou remarked, “Perhaps that is why I keep fighting every day, even now.”

Agbegnenou fighting K Kristo
Clarisse Agbegnenou (Credit: Tribune de Genève)

Rising in the World of Judo

Agbegnenou started judo when she was nine years old, embarking on a path that would lead her to the pinnacle of the sport. She represents her country, France, admirably in every fight she competes in. The world-class female athlete competed at the 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympic Games and was chosen to carry the French flag during the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony.

Advocating for Gender Equality

Although Agbegnenou is a tough competitor on the judo mat, she is an even tougher advocate for causes important to her. In an interview, she states, “I am happy to show that girls are very strong. We are even stronger than men because we can do more things at the same time! We’ve changed the mentality. We want to instill in young girls and boys that judo is a mixed sport.” Agbegnenou demonstrated her resilience by winning her sixth world judo title just eleven months after giving birth to her daughter, Athena. As I said, she is a fighter on and off the mat. Agbegnenou explains that her motivation is her daughter, Athena. “I can say I am stronger than before. The pregnancy, giving birth, all of this makes you strong. I’m focused on how she can say, ‘Oh, she’s my mom, and she is strong, and I want to be like her,” said Agbegnenou in an interview before the World Championships.

Clarissa Agbegnenou with her daughter
Clarisse Agbegnenou with her daughter (Credit: IJF)

Anticipating the 2024 Paris Olympics

Agbegnenou carries a deep passion for judo. The emotions and sensations of the sport are what drive her, even after all these years. She continues to compete simply because she loves it. The wait is almost over to see Clarisse Agbegnenou fight again at the 2024 Paris Olympics. She will be representing not only France but also female athletes around the world.

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