She has been thinking of the 2016 Olympic Games for 7 years, since Rio was designated as the host city fort he Games, since she won a bronze medal in the world championships, at only 18 years old.
In 2009, in Copenhagen, while Gwladys Epangue won her 1st world title, she offered to France its 2nd reward in this vineyard with a 3rd place in -49 kg.
7 years after, Yasmina Aziez is ranked 5th in the world, qualified for the Games thanks to the ranking and appears as one of the main pretenders for an Olympic medal in Rio (August 17th-20th).
The 3 times European medallist (silver in 2010 and 2014, bronze in 2012) who, even if she hasn’t confirmed all the hopes placed in her, is absolutely one of the top guns of the circuit, which has many.
The leader of the troublemakers is named Jingyu Wu, who is the running double Olympic champion and world n°1. The Chinese (29 years old), 2007 world champion, 2015 vice world champion, should be opposed to the French only in the final.
If so, it means that Yasmina Aziez would have extinguished the flames of hope for Croatian Lucija Zaninovic (world n°3), her nemesis, Thai Wongpattanakit (n°2), Korean Kim So-Hui (twice world champion) or Mexican Itzel Manjarrez. An Olympic gold medal, you have to deserve it !
« I don’t fear any girl, but me »
What’s your approach of the Games ?
Rio will be my 1st ones. I know it’s going to be difficult. But I have to consider this tournament like… not a normal one because this is something extraordinary, but I shouldn’t put me under useless pressure. There will be some of course, but it should not overcome determination, motivation and spirit we should have on this particular day.
I dread this Games. In fact, there two sides. A part of me wants to be there, the other one tells me : “Wait because you still need to work and refine your Taekwondo”. I would like to have one more month to get prepared. I want to be on top on D day.
Who are you the most afraid of ?
I first fear myself. In fact, in all the competitions where I lost, it’s me who did mistakes. I lost because of me, not because of my coach or my opponent. During the fight, at some point, I fed up with doing only front leg and seeing a tight score. I want to speed up. But girls only wait for you attacking in order to counteract you. Taekwondo has become very defensive. I don’t fear any specific girl, but me and the Asian style ones.
« Fate will be reversed at the Games… »
Have you fought all your opponents? Did you beat them all ?
I fought all of them but the Aruba one who I should match on the 1st round (Pimentel Rodriguez). In ¼ final, I should fight the Croatian (Lucija Zaninovic), that I am used to face in the European championships. She always wins but fate will be reversed at the Games.
If I qualify for ½ finals, I should be opposed to either Korean Kim So-Hui (twice world champion), or Thai Wongpattanakit. I lost once against the Korean, in the 2013 Manchester Grand-Prix, while I just came back from injury.
But I never fight against the Thai one.
How do you feel, a few weeks ahead the Games (the interview was made on July 6th) ?
We came back from Cuba one week ago. I feel really tired, mentally and physically. We were pushed very hard there. It’s tough but that’s normal to be tired one month and 10 days ahead of the Games. We work things that we are not used to. We should remain calm.
« I often play sudden death »
Tell us about this one week camp in Cuba ?
I was in a great shape. I did all the opposition sequences. I took everything I could. I did 3 test matches with a good opposition. I have to keep working on my concentration and my lucidity during the fights, in order to not lose my self-control. I often play sudden death against girls. I should not want to score quickly. Many times, I attack, expose myself and got scored.
But, on the Games’ day, whatever happens, that I am ready or not, I will be pushed up by wanting so hard this Gold medal, and by thinking of all sacrifices made.
« I love 360’s, Nelyo… »
Since your bronze medal in 2009, you didn’t win world ones anymore. Why ?
2011 was a great failure. I could have won a medal. I was injured before but, still, I don’t think that’s the reason why. I started the tournament with a bad spirit. I wasn’t in a good mental state of mind. I wasn’t able to take up the challenge. In 2013, I was operated and I couldn’t participate.
In 2015, I had a very difficult year, which was mainly due to personal problems. I wasn’t able to fight at all. Then, in the worlds, I think I did a good job because I didn’t think I could be in. I lost in ¼ finals against Serbian Bogdanovic, who finished 3rd. I could win but I mentally broke down,
What have you learnt from these experiences ?
I have to work on my mental again and again. When I go to pieces, I lose my temper. I lose my lucidity, I forget my strategy, my tactics. And once I am out of it, I have hard time to get concentrated again.
What is fun for you in Taekwondo ?
I like to win when I know there is a lot of work made and that I have suffered, like in the Grand-Prix Final, when I qualified for the Games by ending up 2nd (in Mexico at the end of may). It was great because I really suffered in 2015.
I also love to attack. I am a striker at heart. Even if it causes me some problems, I love doing 360’s, Nelyo… I have a little calmed down but, at the Games, I want to do some “magic” ones. An offensive 360’s or a Nelyo to the face got me out of trouble by the past.
« I get up each time I fall »
With what technique would you like to win the Games ?
I would love to win in the final against the Chinese Wu by doing a reverse kick or head kick. It would be great !
How do you look at your career since 2008 ?
My career looks like roller coasters. I did 3 great years in a row, 2008, 2009 and 2010. In 2011, I was injured. It was tough. But my mental strength allows me to hold on. I get up each time I fall. It means a lot of sacrifices and many difficulties to overcome, between diets, injuries, the day you wake and you don’t want to go training because you miss faith…
Today, I realize it took me a long time but I have what I wanted : to go to the Games. Everybody who supports me has to help to get Gold.