This Olympic gold medallist judo champion says she is now jobless and adds “sometimes I regret being an Olympic champion”, hinting she is overlooked for being a woman.
Emilie Andeol, 32, is a French judoka who won a gold medal at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 but three years on she is jobless.
Breaking down in tears, she told French newspaper Le Parisien: “I’m sorry… It’s tough to say this, but I’m in trouble.”
She added: “Yes, I am an Olympic champion and I am out of work.”
She said: “It was hard to admit it, to think that I had worked for 12 years to get there. I fought, nobody believed in me, I was the good person in training that no one was watching. I won the Games, I thought: I’m going to do well out of this. And in the end, nothing.”
Speaking about her experience as a gold medallist: “Sometimes, I regret being an Olympic champion, the fall would have been less hard. People idealise Olympic titles too much. I thought so much that it would change my life…”
Local media report that she failed to attract sponsors and job offers failed to materialise. Andeol said: “I was told: ‘You understand, there is Teddy Riner.’ So what ? I am a woman, I have my story…”
Teddy Riner is a French judoka who has won ten World Championship medals and two Olympic gold medals.
Andeol has qualifications and is actively seeking work.
She said: “A baccalaureate, a diploma in marketing techniques, a bachelor’s in organisation management, diplomas to be a judo teacher. I’ve always been aware that sports would only be 10 years of my life, I ticked all the boxes. Since then, I send CVs, letters, I did a skills assessment, I fine-tuned, I started studying again…”
Andeol then spoke about burning out, saying: “The year after the Games, I lost my bearings, my body ended up saying ‘stop’. I left to settle in Bordeaux and since then it’s been difficult.”
The champion is now reportedly living off her savings. She said: “The Judo Federation has extended my financial scholarship by one year because I set up a tour, but in January, all that will stop.”
She added: “It feels good to talk about it… All of this has had an impact on my morale, because it’s hard. I have put on 10 kilogrammes (22 lbs), since then I have been doing a lot of work on myself to externalise, I have started to write… My parents are worried, I reassure them but I did not expect this.”
Andeol said: “Twelve years of high-level competition, it leaves traces, and afterwards… I had heard about post-career death. I lost that adrenaline. Judo allowed me to bring out everything that I had buried deep inside me… It’s not easy when you’re a teenager to be not very big, round and black, the sport allowed me to gain confidence in me. I would like my career to help young people…”
She added: “Maybe I should have been more present on social networks, maybe I should have stayed in Paris. People idealise the thing, but, no, I did not become the queen of oil in Rio! But I have lots of ideas, lots of things I would like to do.”
Andeol won gold at the 2014 European Judo Championships in Montpellier, bronze at the 2014 World Judo Championships in Chelyabinsk and gold at the 2015 European Judo Championships in Baku.
The Ananova page is created by and dedicated to professional, independent freelance journalists. It is a place for us to showcase our work. When our news is sold to our media partners, we will include the link here.