Luka Mkheidze, the resilience of the champion
Judoka Luka Mkheidze, after his victory in the fight for the – 60 kg bronze…
Luka Mkheidze is used to surprising his world. Sunday, May 7, the French compete in the world judo championships (until May 14) in the category of less than 60 kg, in Doha, Qatar. And he never seemed so strong. “Many believed that I was not going to come back after my rupture of the [ligaments] crusaders »explains the 26-year-old, that this injury, contracted in March 2022, kept him away from the tatami for ten months.
But, since his resumption of competition at the start of the year, the one who offered himself Olympic bronze in Tokyo continues with a third place at the Grand Slam of Portugal, on January 27, then two victories in a row in Tel Aviv ( Israel), on February 16, and in Antalya (Turkey), on March 31 – his first successes in these prestigious international tournaments. Enough to sweep away doubts and bring him up seven places in the world rankings (10e).
“I didn’t want to leave anything to chance, I put everything in place to come back. I had never won a Grand Slam… I won two in a row. I don’t have an explanation for that. Except that I trained hard. I didn’t give up”says the native of Tbilisi (Georgia).
Luka Mkheidze had already done the trick. In the summer of 2021, on the carpet of the legendary Budokan, he offered the French judo delegation its first Olympic medal from the Tokyo Games. “I was 20e global. Nobody expected it. It was a real surprise. Even if my coaches and I believed in it…”
A few months later, in February 2022, he confirmed on the tatami of the Paris Grand Slam with a new third place. “It was my first time there, in one of the toughest tournaments in the world. It gave me confidence in myself. Tokyo was not a one-time story. »
“Set new goals”
During an internship with the French team in Mongolia, his destiny as an athlete almost changed when, during a randori (training fight) his knee gave way. “I have rarely seen a country where judokas train so much. I wasn’t used tohe recalls. During a session where I was more tired, less concentrated, my opponent made me a hold, I was put under duress and it let go at that moment. »
A blow that he managed with intelligence, without rushing. “Once injured, there is no point in dwelling on it. But it is important to give yourself new objectives: to see the surgeon, to have surgery, to recover amplitude and mobilityhe explains. All these small steps allowed me to hold on, because the rehabilitation of a knee is long. »
You have 55.65% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.