As the world karate championships begin Tuesday, November 16 in Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Jessie Da Costa, Steven’s twin brother – crowned the first Olympic champion in karate history in Tokyo this summer – has been selected for the first time in individual, in the category of less than 84 kg.
If the 24-year-old karateka, a second year student in nursing school, has already climbed many team podiums – European champion in 2016, vice-European champion in 2017 and bronze medalist in the world championship in Austria in 2016 – he hopes to unlock his individual medal counter in Dubai. Jessie Da Costa confided in franceinfo: sport on this new goal as well as on his brother Steven and the disappearance of karate at the Paris 2024 Olympics.
franceinfo: sport: What is your goal for these Worlds? What state of mind are you in as the event approaches?
Jessie Da Costa: As in all great events, the stress begins to mount. But I try to take things with serenity. This is my first individual selection in the French team. I want to have fun, that’s the most important. We’ve all trained hard, and of course when I’m competing I’m not going to lose. I’m going there to be world champion.
During these Worlds, you are involved individually and in teams. What does it mean to you to have your two brothers (Steven and Logan) on the team, to fight as a family?
It’s really cool. Steven (24 years) and me, we joined more or less at the same time the French team, and our older brother Logan (29 years), a little before us. We have almost always fought together as a team.
It is a force to fight together. The bonds are even stronger and unique. Obviously, it’s a strength when your brother encourages you or when you see your brother on the tatami. Afterwards, it’s also an extra stress when you see him fight. And then, the group spirit is a little easier to develop because we already know each other by heart, and that creates unity a little faster.
Is it hard to find a place in your sport when your twin brother is Olympic champion?
Not at all. After Steven’s Olympic title, I became the proudest man in the world. Even before being Olympic champion, he already had a record as long as his arm (2018 world champion, team and individual bronze medalist at the 2016 worlds among others). And I never tried to compare myself to him. I’m just very happy and proud of him. When he wins I win and when I win he wins too. It’s like that.
– Steven Da Costa (@Steven_DaCosta) November 8, 2021
I try to make my little way, and my little career in my corner, hoping that everything will go well. But, there has never been any jealousy or any complex about what we have each accomplished. He has his career, I have mine.
Do you give each other advice on your discipline and your respective careers?
Yes of course, we are linked by sport. We train every day together, and we advise each other all the time. In training, we will say to each other “well done the technique”, “well done that”. And then, we talk a lot about karate, about competition. We are together all the time, in training or in competitions.
You were notably his training partner in the home stretch before Tokyo …
Yes, we trained together to finish preparing for the Olympics. I accompanied him until he entered the Olympic Village, where unfortunately I could not follow him, due to the sanitary conditions.
In three years at the Olympic Games in Paris, karate will no longer be part of the disciplines on the program. However, your brother worked a lot after his title to ask for his reinstatement. Are you sad about this issue?
I am sad, of course. Our sport is very unifying and conveys a lot of values. It’s a shame to withdraw from this exhibition, which allowed us to make ourselves known to the general public. I saw Steven fighting all summer to get him back on the Olympic program. But at a certain point, we are no longer in disillusion, but in resilience.
“I tell myself that too bad, I will never know the Olympics.”Jessie Da Costa
to franceinfo: sport
It’s like that, but it’s a shame for the generations to come and sad for the Olympics too because I think we presented a beautiful show in Tokyo, and that the enthusiasm was strong. And then, we have good athletes in France.
Without the Games, the Worlds once again become the major competition. Did the Olympics have an impact on the interest shown in the Worlds?
A little, yes, I think. Because Steven got incredible media coverage with his title, people kind of realized what we were really doing. A lot of people came to see me saying: “Your brother is too strong” Where “Wow, you’re going to do the Worlds “.