Friday and Saturday in Sofia (Bulgaria), the French taekwondo team is playing its last card to qualify athletes for the Tokyo Olympics. Blues in reduced formation (four athletes only) and finals to reach to collect the precious sesame. Cyrian Ravet (-58kg), Dylan Chellamootoo (-68kg), Althé Laurin (-73kg) and Magda Wiet-Hénin (-67kg). Wiet-Hénin, European champion 2020 takes a closer look at this unmissable challenge.
Magda Wiet-Hénin, you did not qualify for the world ranking at the end of 2019: since when has this TQO been in your head?
It’s been a while. In December 2019, I came close to qualifying by the ranking. It would have been a great satisfaction but ultimately we have to go through this mandatory date of the TQO. This tournament has changed dates twice. Now I can not wait for it to arrive, to get this qualification and for this stage to be behind me so that I can focus on the Olympics. Since Haby Niaré (world champion, European champion and recently retired Olympic silver medalist) passed the torch to me of -67 kg, I think of the Olympics. It is coming to fruition with this TQO. During the European Championships (3rd) it was difficult to get into it because I was already planning on the TQO, when there was the possibility of going for a title. It was confusing.
The four qualified and their partners met in Bugeat (Corrèze), in a calm environment to succeed in this delicate mission …
We are a small group to protect ourselves from the Covid, to have a negative test in order to fly to Sofia. We are with our motivated training partners who help us. We want to go get four quotas. In the morning, it’s technical, and in the afternoon, physical. With the partners, we work on opponent profiles or with the electronic breastplate. With the list of qualified, it is important to prepare according to the opponents. As seed number 1, I think the girls are going to have studied me to the max. It is an additional issue. We are preparing well so as not to be surprised, we want to know all the girls and not leave saying “I’m number 1, the qualification is in the pocket”. It is nice to know what the opponent is doing, you have to do the job on the combat area, focus on yourself.
For this deadline, should we stay on what worked or try to surprise?
We have to make a compromise. If I can win by doing what I’m good at, that’s fine. If necessary, we will take out the little technique that we also work with the coach. We will try to adapt. The most positive pattern would be to not do something new and stick with my strong techniques. If I can put my game down the way I want it will be cool. If there is a need to go coal, we’ll go and try something a little crazier.
In 2016, your teammate and companion Dylan Chellamootoo participated in the TQO and lost in the second round …
In 2016, I went to see him in Istanbul. It was really impressive. He could not take the opportunity to go to the Olympics. He told me that what made the difference is to be relaxed, the one who will be the most relaxed will be the one who can let go. We try to do a good preparation and then just have to let go of the legs. During my mental preparation, I tell myself that in this TQO, I will be at my full physical and mental potential, that I will arrive with all my weapons fully loaded. And if I can get there, no one will take my quota.
How is your mother Valérie, former champion, in relation to this event?
She leaves me space. Usually she asks me how I’m doing every day. There, she lets me start the conversation. We do some Facetime, she tries to let me go if I doubt a bit, she will say “my girl you are the strongest”. Here in Bugeat, there is nothing, we stay in the center … so she takes me out of taekwondo
Can you introduce your teammates?
Cyri (Cyrian Ravet) is gifted in taekwondo, he is cool, he does not take the lead. It’s nice to see this youngster arrive relaxed, he gives himself challenges. It’s nice to train with him, with his somewhat special techniques, he is inspiring. Althéa also feels taekwondo, she has it in her blood. Like Cyri, she has that, it’s innate taekwondo for them. Outside, she is reserved, we get to know each other. Dylan is the duo, we have known each other for a long time, we are the oldest, the oldest of the team: I still remember us at 15 years old. 10 years later, we are getting closer to our dream. I hope to continue the adventure with him. Having our quotas … I know how much he wants to be successful, he knows how much I want to get there. We support each other a lot.
Apart from taekwondo, it is also serious for you …
Since October, I have been under a Professional Integration Contract at Crédit Mutuel, I can live from my sport. It is also my retraining: the day I end my career, I am in the company on a permanent contract. At Insep, I go to an agency on Thursday afternoon to learn the trade. I work in the service of non-profit associations. Later I would like to show my own association. And at the same time, I have a Master’s degree from the Lyon management school. At my own pace.