Grace-Esther Mienandi-Lahou, judoka gold digger – Seine-Saint-Denis

At 17, Grace-Esther Mienandi-Lahou has just completed an exceptional season on the tatami. At over 70kg, she won all the titles, France, Europe and World individual and mixed team, plus two European tournaments. No French judoka had ever accumulated so many titles among the cadets in one season.

The story began in Villepinte, where she was born, grew up, lives and still trains. “I started judo for the first time when I was six years old, but I didn’t really like it, she explains. I stopped. In my family, they are all basketball lovers, my mother, my father… So I tried. But I quickly stopped, I don’t like to run! So I went back to the Villepinte Judo Club. »

“She sends, the little one!”

At the start, judo was fun, a pastime, but when she was under 2, Grace-Esther Mienandi-Lahou became vice-champion of France. “At that time, I said to myself that it was possible to try to reach the top level, to do something good in judo. » And according to his mother, Ida Mienandi-Lahou, “When Grace-Esther does something, she likes to do it well. She is diligent and in life she is reserved, polite, discreet. » Karim Saïd, president of the Judo Club de Villepinte, adds: “But on the tatami, she’s a warrior, she wants it. She has made a lot of progress and still has plenty of room to improve further. She is on the right path. » So Grace-Esther works, works… During the uchi komi (rehearsal exercises of a technique editor’s note), it is often Karim Saïd and his 1m90 who serve as partners for the young champion. And blowing, he testifies that“she sends, the little one! Pffft…”

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golden harvest

This year, everything lined up for Grace. It started with first place in an excellence tournament. “I was proud of myself, so proud, it was my first gold medal! She was so hard to get. When I got it, I cried, cried… I cried even in the return bus! »

Following this, she chained victories in the European Cup in Fuengirola in Spain, in Zagreb in Croatia. Which earned him to participate with the French team in the European and World Championships and to come back with his 4 gold medals. She experienced both the joy of winning individually and as a team.“When you win individually, it’s for you, for your family. As a team, it’s different, you fight for others. We support each other, encourage each other. And when we see that everyone else has won, we have to win too! no question of being the one who makes the team lose. »

In the footsteps of Audrey Tcheuméo

As for school, Grace-Esther is in her final year and dreams of becoming an architect. “I like to draw plans, do interior design… I did an internship at the town hall of Villepinte, it reinforced my idea of ​​becoming an architect. » In the meantime, this year she leaves the Pôle espoir de Brétigny to join INSEP, with the gratin of French judo. She will find there in particular Audrey Tcheuméo of RSC Montreuil, world champion and two-time Olympic medalist. “Audrey is very nice to me, she follows me and supports me. Having the advice of such a champion is too strong! » We wish Grace-Esther Mienendi-Lahou the same prize list as that of “Tchoumi”, at least!

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Photo : Nicolas Moulard