When Felipe KITADAI, an Olympic bronze medallist (2012) and Pan American champion (2011) in his active career, took up his first coaching job in Austria in March 2022, his German was still a little bumpy. The 34-year-old Brazilian connected the legendary January training camp in Mittersill and his friendship with Judo Austria figureheads Sabrina Filzmoser and Ludwig “Lupo” Paischer with the Alpine Republic. 13 months later, he leaves his adopted home in Linz (training base of the Olympic Team, Upper Austria) – with his wife Cintia and daughter Sabrina – and dedicates himself to new coaching tasks from October. At the Junior European Championships in The Hague (NED) he will say goodbye to Judo Austria. In the meantime, his German has long become fluent.
How would you summarize the18 months as Judo Austria national under-21 coach?
Kitadai: “I am very grateful to Judo Austria, we had a wonderful time in Linz as a family. I learned a lot as a coaching novice and was able to pass on my experience as an active athlete to the junior squad. Working with Marcus Auer, Lisa Tretnjak, Verena Hiden, to name just three of them, was a lot of fun. It is nice to see how they have developed in the last few months. That makes me proud. It’s just a shame that Marcus came away empty-handed in The Hague. He was really close to a European Championship medal.”
In which area did you learn the most for your coaching career last year?
Kitadai: “As an athlete, you are primarily focused on yourself. As a coach, you have to think yourself into your protégés and interpret the different perceptions as correctly as possible. That was a big adjustment – of course, this process is not yet finished.”
What will you miss most about Austria?
Kitadai: “The young judo talents, the food – especially cordon bleu – and my colleagues at the national federation. But don’t worry, I won’t lose contact. Austria will see me regularly.
Can you already tell us where you’ll be going?
Kitadai: “That will be announced in October. We’re still enjoying September in Linz! Only this much: we will stay in Europe …”
Author: EJU Media