Now that we are in the final 16months or so before the olympics I will be updating my blog to let you know how things are going on and off the mat.
OK so in January 2011 - I was ranked 7th in the world and got invited to the World Masters, to sum it up for everyone, this tournament is the BEST of the BEST and ONLY the top 16 players in each division are allowed to fight, you also have to be invited to attend this event. This event is somewhat new being its only the 2nd year that it has taken place, but this is also the 2nd time I was invited :P. The first year I was injured and unable to attend.
Leading up to the 2011 World masters, I was feeling on top of my game, having just placed 3rd at the Grand slam in Tokyo I was sure and ready to fight at the world masters. BUT about one week before I was scheduled to fight I injured my rib at training, which hurt me a lot but I decided that it was not that bad and I was still going to take part in the Masters and my european tour - BAD CALL.. First round I had the Uzbekistan player who I had beat in our previous fight, but during the fight I blocked an attack in the first 2min of the fight and heard a pop.. which was my RIB. I actually finished the fight but ended up loosing, I think the adrenelin was pumping and I figured I could still push through, which was also not a good call.
Well to sum it all up - my 6 week tour ended in just 5days. And if anyone has broken a rib before or injured a rib they know how it feels, I couldnt get out of bed without working my way over to the edge of the bed and then rolling over quickly, pushing myself up on to my knees and then on to my feet... On the way home I had to ask an older lady for help to put my bag up into the overhead storage on the plane - I couldnt run, lift weights or do anything.
The night I hurt my rib I was also extreamly sick and the Dr. said that my rib probably pushed against or scratched my liver and it was probably a reaction to that. Was not a very good way to start the year by any means!! My rib injury took about 10weeks to heal!!!
My goal after coming back from my rib injury was to win and focus on the Pan american championships but I was set back yet again only after about two weeks being back on the mat, when I tore my miniscus during training - which I took another 2 weeks off for which left me in in the best shape. However I was still able to take bronze, only loosing to the top Cuban fighter in a very close match, so I was still happy with my result - considering how much time I was off from training.
After the pan american championships my world ranking had dropped to 12th due to the fact that I had not been able to compete and pick up points in Jan.
My plans and goals had now shifted to the next european tour which was in early may starting with the grand prix in Baku, Azerbaijan. Leading up to this event my goal was not only to compete but to win this event, I was starting to feel better, stronger.. and the only thing that was still bugging me was my knee(which I will get to later on) but with a lil tape and some pain I pushed through. 3 weeks before leaving for Baku though I injured my elbow to the point where I could no longer lift weights or even grip during training, so I decided to take some more time off and try to let it heal.
When I got to Azerbaijan I was in horrible shape(by my standards) my cardio was not good but I was somewhat healthy enough to compete or so I thought. It seemed being back in Azerbaijan was bad luck for me because I got killed in my first fight against the Georgian player. After my match I had to really sit down and look at what I needed to do to get myself back into shape both physically and mentally. A lot of people dont realize the amount of stress an amature athlete is under during the olympic qualification period and for Judo we start our qualification 2 years before the games. The stress of not placing at events was starting to get to me.
Seeing the podium and people who I beat win and place at the tournament did not sit well, I was in a slump - thats all I can say.. you can make excusses all you want about why your in the slump, injuries a bad call but you just have to try and work it out. After the training camp in Azerbaijan we went to a European Cup in London england where I started to feel great, back to my old self... In the first round I wasnt feeling 100% but with my first win I started to feel it, in the 2nd round I had the top British player who I beat up and threw within 1min30sec and all of a sudden the clouds around my head started to vanish.. haha - little did I know that in the 3rd round I would make a huge mistake that would end up costing me the match and put me out of the tournament - the clouds were back!! Judo is such a funny sport when you actually sit down and look at it - being the number one seeded player doesnt mean much because any one little mistake and the match is over.
The draw is somewhat similar to a tenis draw, but in tenis normally the best player on that day wins.. in judo you fight like a tiger, feel great.. be killing someone and then bam its over, and your day is done. Thats how my tournament finished. The only good part about the tournament was that my team mates in other divisions were fighting great!!
The next two weeks leading up to the grand slam in Moscow were spent in holland training with the team there. When we got to moscow I felt good, each tournament I felt better and stronger, my confidence was back. After I saw the draw I knew I had a good chance to make the gold medal final, every match up was a good one for me. In my first round I beat a young up and coming Italian kid with a lot of good wins under his belt this year, so I was pleased with my fight against him, which put me into the 2nd round against the German player who I had previously beat. In the match I was fighting good, was up by a shido(penalty) but around 4min into the fight I started to gas - I was running out of steam, and the match was starting to turn - the ref gave me a penalty and the match was tied at the end of regulation - overtime it was.. about half way into the over time period the ref gave me a 2nd penalty giving the match to the german and sending me into the bleachers to watch - The german ended up losing in overtime in the gold medal final of the Moscow Grandslam.
After the tournament I was not mad at my self, just mad that I ran out of steam, my cardio was still not up to par like how it was in Dec. and it cost me the match!
That was the end of the european tour and yet again I was going home empty handed. When I got home I had more stress waiting for me. This year I decided that I would buy a house, and it was now time to do some renovations before I moved in - the only bad part was I only had two weeks home before I had to leave again for the Pan american World cup circut. With the help of my father and a lot of all nighters we finished the upstairs well enough to move in. We finished moving everything into the house the day before I had to leave for Brazil - and I left everything with my girlfriend and daughter to take care of.. the house looked like a pile of S#@$ boxes and stuff just basically thrown everywhere. When I was packing to come here I had no idea where anything was.. to say the least I was a little stressed.
I am now in Brazil and just fought at the Grand Slam Rio - where I took 5th. I had a first round bye and won my next two matches. My cardio is still not where it needs to be!! in the 3rd round (quarter final) I fought the number 2 player in the world from Japan, we have had some battles in the past with both of us beating one another in different world cups. This match however did not go as planned, in the first min of the match the japanese player tried an illegal move which hurt my already injured elbow even more. The refs wanted to Dq him from the tournament but the head ref did not see what happened so the match went on!! Like I said sometime there are bad calls but you have to live with them. I ended up getting pinned in the last minute of the fight and the Japanese player went on to win the event, leaving me with a 5th place finish and some good points towards the olympics. Right now after this event I am ranked 10th in the world and will continue next weekend In another World cup in Brazil.
We are at training camp right now, and because my knee and elbow are bad I am only able to train once a day on the mat, due to the fact that I dont have enough power in my arm.
As for my knee, well I will get an MRI done when I get back from this 5 week tour, and I will prob go in for a scope(surgery) to clean it out and repair what is broken after the world championships in Aug.
Next up like I said is Sao Paulo World cup, then Miami World cup, Venezuala World cup and El salvador World cup.
Sorry for the spelling - this spell check wont work on here.. haha