Judo Fanatics Exclusive Interview with Shirine Boukli
Q: Congratulations on your win. How did you feel going into the European Championships?
A: Thank you. I didn’t feel any pressure. I felt I had nothing to lose, so that gave me the right mindset to do my judo and to win!
Q: In the Hungary Grand Slam, you lost to Andrea Stojadinov in the bronze medal match. How did you feel after that defeat?
A: I wasn’t in very good shape then and I was pretty disappointed in myself. I felt I had given her the victory. I was in much better shape this time around.
Q: There are several other players you have fought many times before like Laura Martinez of Spain and Mascha Ballhaus of Germany, both of whom are quite young as well. However, a lot of attention is on the rivalry between you and Stojadinov because of the recent clashes in Hungary and Prague. Do you think she will end up becoming your main rival in the Seniors?
A: Yes, I think so and actually, I hope we will be able to maintain this rivalry for a long time to come. It will spur both of us to do our best.
Q: Prior to stepping on the mat for the final, did you have a particular strategy to beat her?
A: Not really. I was familiar with her judo so I knew what I had to do in terms of gripping and so on. My mindset was simply that I am going to win today.
Q: You used a strangling technique similar to what Amandine Buchard likes to do. Did you learn this from her?
A: Yes, it’s true it was Amandine who taught me this. Ha… ha….
Q: A bit of a technical question here. When Buchard does the strangle, she seems to hold her hands together but it looked like you were holding higher up your arm. Did you do it differently?
A: Yes, I do it a bit differently. In previous fights when I tried to hold my hands together, the strangle didn’t work. I find it works better for me when I grab my own forearm. But the strangle itself is still done with the wrist.
Q: Do you have a preference for tachi-waza or newaza?
A: I actually prefer tachi-waza but if there’s a chance to win in newaza, I’ll take it. Sometimes it’s faster and more decisive in newaza.
Q: Your teammate Melanie Clement has qualified for the Olympics and is ranked higher than you but she didn’t do so well in the Europeans. Does that mean you have a chance at the Olympics?
A: A European title will not necessarily earn me a spot on the Olympic team. I have to keep competing and winning if I want a chance to get to the Olympics.
Q: How has training been like during this pandemic?
A: Well, at first when it was a complete lockdown, I spent a lot of time with my family in the south of France. That was pretty cool because it’s been a long time since I last spent quality time with my family. These days, I’m back at training in INSEP just like before.
Q: Is there any difference?
A: We train just as hard but there are some protocols for safety. For example, the team is divided into lightweights and heavyweights and these groups train separately, so it’s not so big a group. Also, the boys and girls train separately. Things like that. We have to be careful and responsible if we want to train.
Q: What are your hopes for next year?
A: More competitions and more wins. And, I hope the Olympics will happen.