Judo World Champion
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Clarisse Agbegnenou is a French-Togolese Judoka, who won the gold medal in the 63 kg category for the fourth time at the 2019 World Judo Championships in Tokyo on 28 August, after a fierce final of more than 11 minutes against the Japanese Miku Tashiro. Born to Togolese parents in Rennes, France, Clarisse has dual citizenship and maintains strong ties to both countries. In 2014, Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé congratulated her in a letter, “wishing her many other brilliant victories,” Together with her twin brother, she was born as a premature baby. Clarisse told her story in a video: “When I was born, I couldn’t breathe. I was basically dead and they resuscitated me. I went under surgery and I was in a coma for nearly one month. They even asked my parents if they can unplug me, but they wanted to wait a bit more. And one day I suddenly woke up. […] They said I was a fighter because I fought for life.” Speaking about the French judo national team, Clarisse explained, “I think men should learn from us, they need a bit of women’s mentality. We are lucky because we have a very strong team. We win far more medals than the men. We are respected now but in the past, we were asked why we were doing a sport for men. Now with our team we have changed the mentality. We want to instil in young girls and boys the idea that judo is a mixed sport,” she explained. Clarisse started judo at the age of nine. She is today the most successful judoka in the history of France and Togo.