Australia’s best judoka descend on Almada, Portugal to kick off the new year.
While the festive season has well and truly ended for most of us, it’s just about to begin for those involved in the international world of judo. Over 300 elite judokas will take centre stage this weekend when the IJF World Tour kicks off in Almada, Portugal.
Although no stranger to organising major events, this will be the first time Portugal has hosted a Grand Prix. In a recent interview with the European Judo Union, Catarina Rodrigues, the 2001 World bronze medallist, EJU Sport Director and Sports Event Director for the Portuguese Judo Federation, was asked how important hosting the IJF World Judo Tour was to their federation.
“To have this type of event is extremely important in all aspects. For the national team, it is great to have a qualification event at home and normally we have great performances at home events, and we can increase our entry of athletes and give them the experience and maybe take results, to grow. For the federation, it is a way to increase the standard in the sporting world. We are totally aware of how important it is to have this type of event in Portugal.”
While not a home event for Team Judo Australia, the opportunity to compete and earn valuable qualification points are just as important.
Due to the changing dynamics within the events world in the wake of Covid, many of our Australian judokas have been limited with the number of international appearances they have been able to make, so having the opportunity to start the year off at the first major event is exciting.
As Team Judo Australia prepared for Portugal, we sat down with a couple of the judokas who will be competing to get their insights on this week’s event and the season ahead.
Heading into Portugal, what are you most excited about?
“It's been 7 months since I last competed at the World Championships, so I can't wait to be able to fight back on the world stage and just enjoy the experience again without any pressure.” - Joshua Katz.
“This will be my first competition since the Tokyo Olympics, so I am excited to start the new year and new Olympic cycle in Portugal. This is also a great opportunity for me to begin my preparations for the Commonwealth Games later this year.” - Nathan Katz.
“Getting back into competition and starting off 2022 with a positive result.” - Tinka Easton.
Covid has presented its challenges for us all, how has it changed the way that you prepare for these types of events?
“It's definitely been a challenge, but I really used the break from competition to make big improvements to my physical condition, and now, after a really intense preparation the past few months, it has definitely paid off.” - Joshua Katz.
“We’ve had to be more flexible and willing to adapt to constant change and disruption. We have had to be careful with our movements prior to travelling to make sure we didn't get Covid but otherwise, we have had a great preparation period at home and are in great shape.” - Nathan Katz.
“During Covid, I moved to Melbourne which significantly changed my daily training environment and competition preparation. Heading into Portugal, we had the opportunity to have our first National training camp at the new National Performance Centre which has helped us prepare in a safe environment.” - Tinka Easton.
Looking ahead at the 2022 Calendar, what event stands out most to you and why?
“The Commonwealth Games in August is definitely a big focus this year. To win gold for Australia would be amazing, but honestly, I'm just looking forward to consistently travelling the world again and competing at all levels.” - Joshua Katz
“Easily the Commonwealth Games in July and the World Championships in October. Any time you get to compete at multi-sport major events is very exciting and as this will be my first Commonwealth Games and to have family and friends travelling to Birmingham after missing the Olympics just makes it that much more special. Likewise, the Worlds is always a benchmark event for the year, and I’ll be looking to make a major inroad into the Paris Olympic Games qualification there.” - Nathan Katz.
“The Commonwealth Games in July is definitely circled on my calendar. Having the opportunity to represent my country alongside athletes from all different sports is just an amazing experience that I am definitely looking forward to.” - Tinka Easton
Anything you want to say to all of your family, friends and supporters back home in Australia who will be cheering you on this weekend?
“I want to thank them for their amazing support and let them know that I will be fighting for them!” - Joshua Katz
“Always appreciate all of the support from back home. It makes it really exciting to compete heading into the first competition of 2022!” - Nathan Katz.
“I just want to thank everyone for their support. It really makes a difference when you know that people are there to cheer you on.” - Tinka Easton
Following on from Portugal, Team Judo Australia will head to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina to compete in the 2022 European Open.
Be sure to stay up to date will all of the latest announcements and results by heading over to the Judo Australia Facebook page, or watch the action live @ live.ijf.org
Author: Charles Hall
Content used from an article written by Thea Cowen titled, IJF WORLD TOUR COMMENCES WITH NEW HOSTS PORTUGAL and published on the European Judo Union webpage: https://www.eju.net/ijf-world-tour-commences-with-new-hosts-portugal/