Amandine Buchard earned silver in Judo in Tokyo. The goal in 2024 is gold with the Games on home ground. | Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images

Name: Amadine Bouchard
Country: France
Sport: Judo, 52kg
Previous Olympic experience: Tokyo 2021
Social Media: Instagram

Who is Amandine Buchard?

The French judoka won a silver medal in the half-lightweight (52kg) class in Tokyo and was part of France’s gold medal-winning mixed team event squad three years ago. Her Olympic triumph came weeks after publicly coming out as a lesbian on a French documentary film during Pride month in 2021.

“I am good in my life, I am good in my sport, I accept myself,” Buchard said then.

The 28-year-old two-time European champion now eyes a prize that has eluded her since winning a junior world title 10-years ago, an individual gold at a world championships or Olympic Games. The Olympic gold is up for grabs in her hometown in 2024. Buchard grew up in a suburb of Paris.

In the midst of a chase for gold, Buchard revealed in January that she withdrew from a February International Judo Federation Grand Slam event in Paris because she saw signs of what could derail the chase: Burnout.

“Having the chance to participate in the Games in Paris is an incredible opportunity,” she said in a January interview with Agence France-Presse and Ouest-France. “To be selected in a world where the competition is also enormous, but it’s a funnel.”

In 2023, Buchard pushed through a demand pre-Olympic training and competition schedule. She won the European title, grabbed an IJF World Masters event win and an IJF grand slam win, yet with 2024 looming she decided that she needed to get away from judo after grueling off-season training session in Japan.

She recalled the strain of wanting the Olympics and trying cut weight to earn a place in the games at 48kg in 2016. The mental distress ruined a chance to reach the Olympics in Rio and she didn’t want a repeat to wreck a chance at Olympic glory at home.

“I didn’t want to reach a stage where I no longer wanted to put on a kimono. That would have been a point of no return, it could have destroyed me entirely,” she recalled. “I distanced myself. I’ve been training for years in the same place, with the same people, the same pressure. There, by changing my daily life, it was a way of breathing new life into my sport.”

Coming off a break from judo, Buchard (2nd from right) is returning to form, including a world championship bronze in May (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Amandine Buchard at the Paris Summer Olympics

The retreat and recharge paid an immediate dividend. Buchard returned to competition in March at the IJF Grand Slam event in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and roared as the top seed to a final where she defeated Uzbek upstart Gulkhayo Juraeva who made a Cinderella run from the 20th seed.

“I was happy to win today,” Buchard said after winning the final in Tashkent. “But I am also happy that my process is coming up step by step.”

Buchard is ranked fourth the world in her weight class. She trails current world rankings leader Diyora Keldiyorova of Uzbekistan, who lost in the IJF world championship final to second-ranked Odette Giuffrida in May. Giuffrida took down Buchard in semifinals and worlds, and Buchard fought to a bronze medal.

Also looming is world No. 3 Distria Krasniqi of Kosovo, who won gold at the European championships, and defending 52kg Olympic gold medalist Japan’s Uta Abe is ninth-ranked, but expected to be in Paris.

In Tokyo, Buchard lost to Abe the gold medal final match and some analyst predict that may meet again for the gold in 2024. This time however, Buchard would have the home mat advantage.