The official selection of the French national team for the World championships in Madrid (November 6-11) was published yestersday, on Wednesday. If the male one is not a very suprising one, the female selection holds some big surprises, like the absence of the World runner-up Lucie Ignace (-61 kg) and world champion Emilie Thouy (-55 kg) in the French team.
By Ludovic Mauchien
There will be 25 of them defending the colours of France in Madrid during the 24th edition of the World championships (November 6-11), 4 technicians and 21 fighters, plus 4 athletes competing in the Para-Karate event. A special World championship since it is the only one taken into account for Olympic qualification. It is even almost vital as its coefficient (12) is significant in the calculation of the world ranking from which four qualifiers will emerge for Tokyo 2020. A good performance in Madrid will allow to score many important points and create a comfortable mattress. But the race will still be a long one and it will not be a matter of resting on one’s laurels. Analysis category by category.
-60 kg : Johan Lopes
Not selected at the Olympic Pole, Johan Lopes participated to international competitions with his own club. His self-sacrifice and good results have earned him a place at the World championships. He will have a lot to play in Madrid thinking of Tokyo 2020.
-67 kg : Steven Da Costa
Although Marvin Garin has performed well this season, the young French prodigy is still one step ahead. 3rd in 2016 for his first Senior World championships, Steven Da Costa, 21, is willing to do at least as well in Madrid.
-75 kg : Logan Da Costa
World team champion in 2012, Logan Da Costa is still loyal to the position and not worried about competition at the national level. Winner of three Karate 1 in 2017, the older brother of the Da Costa family knows that the task is difficult considering the opposition (Agayev, Busa, Horuna…) but he loves to titillate them…
-84 kg : Kenji Grillon
World champion in 2012, bronze medallist in 2016, Kenji Grillon is still the leader and captain of this French team, even if competition is getting harder and harder with Jessie Da Costa. At 28 years old, he will certainly be competing in his last World championships. An opportunity to walk out the front door ?
+84 kg : Mehdi Filali
He made a fabulous start this season (final in Paris, 3rd in Rotterdam, winner in Rabat) and established himself as the new leader of French heavyweights at only 19 years old. U21 World champion in 2017, Mehdi Filali will experience his first Senior World championships in Madrid.
Team Kumite : Kilian Cizo, Jessie Da Costa, Marvin Garin, Ilyès Klouz, Lou Lebrun, Alexis Raspilair, Maxime Relifox.
The National Technical Direction has decided this year to separate the selections. Thus, no athlete competing individually are in the team tournament. Not present at the Tokyo Olympics, this event is nevertheless very important to gauge the level of a nation and to give experience to youngsters. Many will thus know their 1st Worlds.
Kata : Enzo Montarello
He is undoubtedly the French n°1. He has been working hard for many months to catch up at the international level. These Worlds are a wonderful opportunity for him to show his undeniable improvements.
Kata par équipe : Lucas Jeannot, Enzo Montarello, Ahmed Zemouri
They are back ! The world runners-up (only beaten by Japan two years ago) had taken a break. As the event is not Olympic, team kata is no longer a priority. We are looking forward to see them all together once more time for these World championships. The question is : would they be at the same level than two years ago ?
-50 kg : Alexandra Recchia
She will be competing in her 5th Senior World championships. 5 as the number of gold medals that light up her chest (two in -50 kg, three in team). For her last World championships, Alexandra Recchia will try to break the record of world titles held by a single athlete. Good luck « Alex » !
-55 kg : Sabrina Ouihaddadène
This is one of the biggest surprises of this selection. At just 20 years old, Sabrina Ouihaddadene will know her first official selection in the French national team. She owes it to her good results in Karate 1 this season (final in Paris in particular). The victim ? Emily Thouy, reigning World champion, who has had two difficult seasons due to her studies and work.
-61 kg : Gwendoline Philippe
The battle was raging… Who of Gwendoline Philippe, Lucie Ignace and Leila Heurtault was going to win ? The French staff finally chose the first one. Finalist in Paris, 1st in Rotterdam, 3rd in Rabat and Berlin, the 2017 U21 World champion, 19 years old, will compete in her 1st Senior World Championships. Lucie Ignace decided to stop her career at the same time. Leila Heurtault is selected in the team event.
-68 kg : Alizee Agier
World champion in 2014, runner-up in Europe in 2017, she won two Karate 1 in 2018 (Paris and Dubai). Alizee Agier is the undisputed n°1 in France and not far from being the n°1 in the world, which she wish to prove in Madrid.
+68 kg : Anne-Laure Florentin
She is the current three-times European champion. Anne-Laure Florentin knows little about competition at the continental level, nor at the national one. She still has to take a step forward by becoming a world leader. She is perfectly able to do it and cannot wait to be in Madrid.
Team Kumite : Lea Avazeri, Andrea Brito, Leila Heurtault, Laura Sivert
With the absence of Lucie Ignace, who refused her selection, and Emily Thouy, it is a new look French team that will present itself in Madrid. Only Leila Heurtault has already participated in the previous victorious campaigns. It should be remembered that France is the reigning World champion.
Kata : Alexandra Feracci
She appears to be more and more easy in her Karate as competition go on. Focused on her work and improvement, Alexandra Feracci has earned her national acclaim, leaving out the two-time World silver medalist Sandy Scordo.
Mentally disability : Jordan Fonteney and Charlene Odin
Wheelchair disability : Fatah Sebbak and Virginie Ballario
Jordan Fontenay and Fatah Sebbak, both winners of the last European championships, are motivated as never before to make 2018 an unforgettable season.