Participating in the Olympic Games in Japan is the Holy Grail
Celtus Dossou-Yovou and Nicolas Sigaud lived a great adventure.
Technician, Technician and Instructor at Dom Run Judo, Obiero trained Nicola Segude and later accompanied Beninese judoka Seltos Dosso-Yufu at the Tokyo Olympics in the up to 90kg category. A rich and exceptional experience for both men.
How did you start training for the Tokyo Olympics, seltos doso-yufu, pinin judoka?
It’s an adventure beyond what I could have expected, both sporting and human. It is extraordinary and unexpected that Seltos got the second selection for the Olympic Games after the 2016 Rio Olympics. He expected the selection at the age of 34 and had worked hard in an atypical career to get there. He trained in Budapest with other athletes at the IFRC funded centre, but after the Rio Olympics, that training center was closed. He could have stopped, but the Benin Federation contacted me to find out how to help him continue to practice judo in competition. Celtus and his leaders gave me their trust and he was able to train in France thanks to my network. That’s how I followed him on the international circuit, at the Worlds in Japan in 2019, at various tournaments and finally in Tokyo this year.
Shouldn’t it be obvious to leave your country to train?
In Paris, Seltos trained at the National Institute of Judo and at Parisian clubs. He couldn’t work, but he won an Olympic scholarship, but it wasn’t enough to find housing in Paris. Fortunately, the D system and assist between athletes worked well. He trained every day and sometimes it’s hard because you have to accept the discomfort of training. These games are really a triumph for him.
The Olympic Games were held in the country of that sport, does it have to be legal?
Participating in the Olympic Games in Japan is a victory for me. Having Celtus trust him to take him to a planetary event, as well as Japan, the country of judo, is mixed feelings. They are childhood memories, a goal that every judoka sets when he starts. It’s the Holy Grail, it’s like playing the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Furthermore, the coach from Auvergne who trains and accompanies an African athlete is historic. There were powerful moments like arriving at the Olympic Village. Japan is the mecca of judo, Japanese judokas were treated like blades and we felt, even without spectators, benevolence and orderly care.
AUVERGNAT BE TRAINED AND SUPPORTED
During the opening ceremony, did you participate in any fashion shows in Benin?
Yes, it was very strong. There were eight athletes from Benin and there were about twenty of us with members of the Federation of Benin. I was also wearing a uniform like them. It’s hard to describe. The people of Benin integrated me perfectly. For twelve days, I really was part of their union. I kept the suit…
And on a mathematical level, how did that happen?
Seltos faced Russian judoka, Mikhail Igolnikov, who is ranked sixth in the world and twice European champion in 2018 and 2020, and was fifth at the Tokyo Olympics after that. Celtos was unbridled, there was a level difference, but they played everything they could. I congratulated him on rising to the occasion. He gave three minutes into the fight, gave it his all and didn’t have anything to reproach himself for.
What moments will you keep in your relationship?
Celtus is a very professional person, very square. He really made me happy, even when we had a small management issue which was resolved, he never panicked, he wasn’t nervous but he was always confident. Before the fight, in the warm-up room, we both hugged. I didn’t expect it because he is so discreet and respectful, he calls me formal and he calls me a coach. He had a lot of gratitude for my investment. He deserves all the salaries in the world.
WHAT IS CELTUS’ RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR JUDO CLUB IN AUBIÈRE?
Celtus wanted to obtain his license at the Dôme Rhône Judo, our club located in Aubière which brings together judokas from Puy-de-Dôme, but also from the Lyon region. During school holidays, he taught preparatory courses with us. The youth of the club followed his departure. Here at Aubière, mathematicians know it well and appreciate it very much for its values. I am also a regional civil servant and, under the “Generation 2024” programme, children from my Vercingetorix and Boudonat schools worked on the Olympic rings, the geography of continents. I was asked to make a short film for children and we want to set up a project with other athletes from Auvergne with the aim of showing the Paris 2024 Olympics and the “Terres de Jeux” label acquired by Aubierre.
“At AUBIÈRE, athletes know the bell very well and appreciate it strongly for her values.”
Now what will the Celts do?
His return was celebrated in his country. On your return there will be a reception at Aubière Town Hall. Seltos wants to invest in his country and in the sport. He would like to continue training to provide advice within his federation. Within a more cohesive framework, we are going to try to supply kimonos and tatami mats to Benin and create an exchange in France and Benin for teacher training. The Benin Federation asked me to continue my teacher training work. We should meet soon to discuss this.
We feel your desire to continue the adventure.
My dating story. It’s the story of my life. I had leukemia when I was 22 and it was hard to accept. I was at the bottom of the hole… Thanks to Bertrand Rio, who was an ASM player, I had the chance to meet Jean-Marie Soubira, who played with him at Brive and who also had cancer (deceased in 2015 NDLR). I met a force of nature and was determined to date her outside of it. He went back to playing rugby at a high level after having cancer and I went back to judo, that put me back in the right direction. If they had told me at the time that I would go to the Olympic Games to train an athlete from Benin… These Games with the Celts are the culmination of everything. Like, fate can swing on the right side.