Margaux Pinot: Shock over acquittal of coach accused of punching and strangling Olympic judo champion

‘It was probably judo that saved me,’ the judoka wrote while sharing an image of her swollen face

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Friday 03 December 2021 09:45
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<p>Judo Olympic mixed team gold medallist Margaux Pinot holds a press conference in Paris</p>

Judo Olympic mixed team gold medallist Margaux Pinot holds a press conference in Paris

The acquittal of a French coach accused of domestic violence against Olympic gold medalist Margaux Pinot has left several people from the sports community shocked.

The 27-year-old judo champion accused her partner and coach Alain Schmitt of punching and attempting to strangle her during an argument last week. Mr Schmitt was arrested over allegations of assaulting his partner, but was soon acquitted as a judge said there was not "enough proof of guilt".

After the hearing, Ms Pinot took to social media to share an image of her battered face with visible marks and a swollen eye. She accused her partner of assaulting her between the night of Saturday and early hours of Sunday, at her home in a suburb of Paris.

She wrote: "I was insulted, punched, my head was hit on the ground several times. And finally strangled".

The judoka said that she thought she was dead but managed to escape and take refuge with her neighbours who immediately called the police.

"I have several injuries including a broken nose and 10 days of temporary interruption from work. Today justice has decided to release him," she said, railing against the court verdict.

In a subsequent tweet, Ms Pinot wrote: "It was probably judo that saved me. And my thoughts are also with those who cannot say the same".

She added, "what is their slanderous defence worth against my wounds, and the blood strewn on the floor of my apartment? What was missing? Death at the end, perhaps".

Mr Schmitt denied the allegation in court, calling them "100 per cent false” while accusing Ms Pinot of starting the fight.

"I have never hit a woman in my life, it's rubbish," the 38-year-old coach told the court.

"With the strength that this man (Mr Schmitt) has, he is quite capable of doing a great deal more harm than that," Mr Schmitt's lawyer Malik Behloul was quoted by BBC as saying.

French judo coach Alain Schmitt, accused of assault, holds a press conference in Paris

Meanwhile, the judo community has rallied behind Ms Pinot.

French judoka Clarisse Agbegnenou said she was “shocked” by the court’s decision. “I do not have the words to express everything that is going on in my head and my body as a woman in the face of what my teammate Margaux Pinot has gone through," Ms Agbegnenou tweeted on Wednesday.

Stephane Nomis, president of the French Judo Federation, said: "I do not see where there is no lack of evidence."

Three-time Olympic champion Teddy Riner said, "we are all deeply touched by what our teammate Margaux Pinot has just suffered and we give her our full support".

“What must be done to ensure that victims are heard? That the attackers be convicted,” Riner asked

In the wake of the allegations, the Israel Judo Association cut off all contact with Mr Schmitt, just days before he was slated to begin a new job in Israel.

“We have suspended all contact with him,” Gil Levanony, a spokesman for the association told AFP.

On Thursday, Ms Pinot and Mr Schmitt held separate press conferences, but both were seen with black eyes.

Mr Schmitt said he had gone for a drink before visiting Ms Pinot's home, when the couple started arguing and Ms Pinot "threw herself" on him.

Denying his claim, the judoka said Mr Schmitt was trying to make her look "like a hysterical woman".

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