Proud and happy to have brought the French team its first medal at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday, judoka Luka Mkheidze recounted the journey that took him from Georgia to France, a country which "opened up the possibilities for him. arm ".
Do you realize that you got this medal?
It's a very nice medal, I'll need a few days to achieve.
When I left the tatami, I couldn't believe it.
I told my coach, “I just can't seem to realize what I have been doing.
“My semi-final was very complicated, we went to the golden score, I couldn't even catch my opponent's kimono at the end of the fight.
Thanks to my trainer, my staff, all the French people who came to see me and encourage me, I was able to find the resources to get this bronze medal.
This is your first Olympic medal, but also the first medal for the French team, is that something special for you, given your personal history?
It is even more pride for me to have accomplished this, a first medal for France.
I hope that many more medals will follow.
I plan to stay in Tokyo until August 1, I will try to cheer on the rest of the team, I hope they will do even better than me.
What does France represent for you?
It is a country which welcomed me, which opened its arms to me, even if all was not easy, of course, with all the procedures and the wait.
Despite this, I managed to obtain the nationality, and today I am proud to be there and to represent France.
"We paid a smuggler to bring us to France when our request was refused in Poland"
Before putting it around your neck, you looked at this medal for a long time, what did you say to yourself?
It impresses me this medal, I will still look at it for a long time I think, until I learn by heart what is written on it.
These are years of work, all the things I have experienced in my life.
I went through a lot of things, left my country of origin (
Georgia, in 2010, editor's note
These are sacrifices, but I am not the only one to have made them.
We paid someone, a smuggler, to bring us to France when our request (
for political refugee status
) was refused in Poland.
It is with these sacrifices that we achieve results.
It's a real pride, I even have trouble expressing it.
I am simply very happy.
You discovered judo in Georgia.
When you arrived in France, did you have to find a club quickly?
I discovered judo in Georgia, on television, when a Georgian became the first to win an Olympic title. I saw the pride of the people around me, and I wanted to find that feeling again. Representing a country in such a big tournament is something very powerful. Arriving in France, in Villeneuve-Saint-Georges (
), with my father we immediately looked for a club, first in Bolivar, in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, where Teddy Riner started judo. It was a pure coincidence, moreover, I did not know at all that Teddy had been there. I did not speak French, they had prepared a letter translated into French to explain to the supervisors that I wanted to do judo. Then, we moved to Le Havre, after our request to obtain the status of political refugees. It was there that I took my first steps, before joining the hope center, while waiting to obtain French nationality, then to return to Insep.