ROAD TO RIO: CSERNOVICZKI EVA - FLIGHT NUMBER: HU2014 - BR2016

It has been few weeks from today that the Rio 2016 qualification started within the judo world. Our next destination will be the Budapest Grand Prix. It will be the first time for the Hungarian capital to host a Grand Prix. Olympic Bronze medalist, Csernoviczki Eva will be one of the 47 judoka on stage to impress the home troop. Eva’s Olympic journey started in 1992 when she was glued to the television during the Barcelona Olympic Games. “I wasn’t doing judo at the time; in fact I wasn’t doing any sport at all. I remember watching the Olympic Games itself and I was watching every sports not only judo. That was the time it became clear to me that I want to be an Olympic Champion too… the question was, in which sport?” – recalled the double European Champion judoka. If words could describe, what did you see in the television whilst watching the Barcelona Olympics? Eva gone silent than said: “A dream, a goal, joy… something I could be proud of.” Eva started judo in 1993 in her home town, Tatabanya, Hungary. However there is an interesting story behind it: “My father used to be an international competitor himself and when he stopped competitive judo he started coaching in our hometown. As I am his only daughter, he never wanted me on the mat neither to be a judo champion. Dad wanted me to do gymnastic; mainly because at that time female judo was at a very low level in our country and it has only been introduced a year before in 1992 at the Olympics… so everything was too ‘fresh’, therefore he did not see much future for me in it.” – remembered Eva. What happened? Eva explained: “Mum was working and dad was coaching and I had no-body to look after me so I went to all the judo lessons all the time with dad and just watched the training from the side. One day, I stepped on the mat and started to do what dad was telling the group to do and started to throw others. I loved it so much and I think that was the time when dad accepted me not just as his daughter but his judoka…” “…Following a good few years of only practicing on training, I began to go for competitions. That time we had boys and girls together on the competitions, because we were very young and only few of us would be at the tournaments so they mixed us up. I started to win little competition and then dad turned to me and said: ‘Ok, now it will be time to decide what you want because if you really want to be an Olympian than we have to dedicate to it’… I did not understand what dad was saying because I already dedicated myself in 1992, so I just said yes dad.” – added Eva whilst smiling. From the moment Eva stepped oEva the tatami she was following the career of two specific players. One of them is Hungarian Olympic Silver (92’) medalist, Hajtos Bertalan, whilst the other one was Japanese Olympic Champion, Toshihiko Koga. “I adore their style of judo especially because all my favorite techniques are coming from their influence. I learned those throws because they used to use them to win.” – explained Eva. Being an Olympic medalist is not an easy route. In fact it is very time consuming. Hard work, dedication, sacrifice are just few words to mention… What Eva is up to when she gets a little bit of free time? ECS: “I love surfing, it really switches me off. Not long ago, I also started to attend at different rally events to get an insight view of their regime.” Of course, the Olympic Bronze medal is Eva’s precious decoration in her room. What other achievements she is mostly proud of and why? ECS: “Besides the Olympic Bronze medal there are another three medals I would like to mention. 1 – Cadet European Gold medal, 2002, because that title was the beginning of my international career. 2 – World Championship Bronze medal, 2011 in Paris, because that was a tough event as at the time there were two players allowed in each weight category, and I was really pleased winning a World Championship medal in the middle of the Olympic qualification. 3 – My first European title front of my family and friends in 2013 in Budapest. Eva’s remarkable achievements left with empty pages to fill in the history book of the Hungarian Judo Federation. She is not only the first female judo player to claim and Olympic medal (2012) but also the first judo player to win a Grand Prix (2009) title for her nation. Moreover, she is the only player in history to defend her European title (2012, 2013). It is often said on the homeland of Eva’s that for decades, she carries the female Hungarian judo on her shoulder. How does she feel about it? Eva explained: “I always have big expectations for myself, so sometimes I don’t feel like I have any pressure at home to deliver; however after the Olympic Games it has changed as we were hosting the 2013 Europeans… I knew there is a high expectation. I made it, but mentally I was tired and that effected on my performance at the 2013 WC. Luckily, I recovered of that period and now I can safely say I learned to use the nation’s expectation as a positive push rather than a negative pressure.” Beijing 2008 was Eva’s first Olympic Games where she defeated Sarah Menezes (BRA) and Kim Young-Ran (KOR), however lost out against Alina Dimitru (ROU) and Paula Pareto (ARG), so she had to settle for seventh place. “I was very nervous and the whole fuss about the Olympic Games really got into me. I was disappointed of course but only with my loss against the Argentinian judoka because a month before the games I still defeated her. This is judo.” – recalled the winner of the 2013 Miami Grand Prix. Four years later, Eva gave no chance to the media or anyone to put any mental pressure about the Olympics. ECS: “I went to London like it is another tournament and that helped a lot to stay on task.” Are you pleased with the bronze medal or you think it could have been something else…silver…maybe gold…? ECS: ”I wanted a medal for sure, we all had big expectation on us because there was no female judoka in Hungary winning an Olympic medal; but this time they knew if we really peak than there can be more than one. I was the first one to deliver, which left me with a bit of pressure but looking back I think I managed it well within me. When I lost my semi-final I thought to myself: You giving yourself the hardest route to that podium…’ because I have never ever managed to beat Tomoko Fukumi (JPN) before, and it was golden score. For me, at that moment, winning the bronze medal contest was like winning the Olympics.” What is your main focus for the next qualification period? ECS: “Mainly, I want to make sure that I can deliver a stabilized performance at each event where I will be attending and what I mean by that is to medal. Also, I want to make sure mentally and physically I am on the right level and do a strong preparation at the last phase before the Rio Games will begin.” How difficult or different is a dad-daughter and coach-player relationship at your case? “I have to say it is really great to have my father as my coach. I have to admit, at my teenager years I occasionally wished it was different as I would always question why should I listen to my dad and so on.. I had a bit of typical teenager stubbornness in me but luckily I quickly managed to grow out of it. Today, I have to say it is priceless when you feeling down and disappointed and you have your coach and your family member in one person next to you who you can rely on. Often the calendar is so hectic that others don’t see their family at all for several months. I can’t complain about it, I am his daughter, he knows me more than anyone and sometimes that extra father support helps me to go further.” There are many tournaments in the calendar, literally all over the world, however, Eva, as other previously asked judokas, also likes to return to the famous Bercy stadium in Paris. “The Paris Grand Slam is a well-organized tournament, and the atmosphere in Bercy is amazing, no other events can compete with that atmosphere. It is always full house and you get the crowed to support you no matters what.” – she explained. “For training camp it is different. I like Tata of course because it is my hometown and the food is the best in that camp. However, I also favor the training camp in Antalya because of the circumstances. You train hard but you can also rest and switch off there.” – she added. Now, we are moving the time forward… it is July, 2016 and we are on the plane to Rio de Janeiro. What result would you be pleased to return home? ECS: “First instinct says gold. However, I know how hard it is to even maintain a performance and deliver the same medal won at the previous games, so my final say is definitely a medal I would be pleased to return with. Having said that, it is gold or bronze… I have never experienced it, but I think there is nothing worse than leaving the mat losing out in the Olympic final.” Looking back, what would you say judo has given you besides the tones of medals you collected over the years? “When they say judo is more than a sport, it is very true. Judo gave me simple abilities such as determination, ambitious and never give up on anything… all of the key elements we gain through judo are key elements in life.” – said the three times European Silver medalist. Excited about the Grand Prix in Budapest? Eva: “Yes, absolutely. Having the home crowd boosting us helped a lot last year at the Europeans. I hope it will be the same this year. This is a great opportunity to all the Hungarian judoka to pick up some quality qualification points. I would love to stand on the podium once more front of the home crowd.” Csernoviczki Eva’s three wishes: “Being healthy for life is the most important. Olympic Gold will be definitely on my top three too, and once I retire I would like to have a family.” Interview by Szandra Szogedi

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