Italy's Alice Bellandi has silver and bronze medals in her collection from the World Judo Championships and will aim for her first Olympic podium in Paris. | Jack Guez / AFP via Getty Images

Name: Alice Bellandi
Country: Italy
Sport: Judo, -78kg
Previous Olympic experience: Tokyo 2020
Social Media: Instagram

Who is Alice Bellandi

Qualifying for the Olympics in 2020 clearly lit a fire under Alice Bellandi.

The Italian judoka has been tearing up the International Judo Federation World Tour in the years since finishing seventh in the 70kg category in Tokyo, winning four IJF grand slam tournaments, reaching the podium in an additional five and claiming gold at the 2022 IJF World Masters tournament after moving up to 78kg.

Bellandi ended 2023 as the IJF’s top-ranked judoka in her weight class, adding a silver medal at the 2023 European Championships.

That run is incredibly similar to how she entered the Tokyo Games. Bellandi won the IJF World Juniors championship in 2018 and reached the podium in two separate IJF Grand Prix tournaments the following year.

Alice Bellandi at the Paris Summer Olympics

Bellandi enters the Paris Games with plenty of momentum after earning a silver medal at the 2024 IJF World Championships last month. Time will tell if she will cross paths with German judoka Anna-Marie Wagner, the woman who denied her a world title in Abu Dhabi.

Whether that rematch comes to pass or not, Bellandi is primed to improve on her seventh-place finish. She appears to have hit a new gear since going up in weight class, but she also feels more grounded, focused and mentally strong in preparation for her second Olympic Games.

That difference can be attributed to Bellandi being in a better place personally, as detailed in a self-penned piece in The Owl Post earlier this year, but the power and inspiration she draws from her previous Olympic experience remains a key motivator.

“I have a necklace with the Olympic rings and I kiss the rings because I feel that the rings give me power,” Bellandi told the European Judo Union. “I felt really big emotions when I was in Tokyo, and when I kiss the rings I feel like I can take power from the rings … I woke up every day thinking even in hard moments it fueled me.”