In many cases, athletes transition to become coaches and pass on their knowledge to the next generation, but for Frank DE WIT of the Netherlands, he is following in his brothers foot steps to become a physiotherapist, arguably a judoka’s best friend.
During the Covid 19 pandemic, the IJF World Tour as well as continental judo came to a stand still and allowed those with only Olympic qualification on their mind to consider the big question, what happens when the judo stops?
For Frank, he was influenced by his brother and felt this would be a good option for him, and now is in his third year of study alongside his full time training. This week while most of the senior team are training in Georgia, there are a few big names present for the Junior European Judo Championships 2023 including Roy MEYER and Sanne VAN DIJKE, all of which competed in the latest edition of The Hague Grand Prix in 2018.
Walking in here feels the same as if I was competing, coming in to the warm up, I know how nervous they’ll be feeling. We have a great crowd here, they really love judo and I can remember the first time I competed in The Hague, it was in 2017 and I’d won the Paris Grand Slam so I think they expected me to win. I fought Mollaei (Saeid) for bronze but lost it and I could feel the disappointment. There is a lot of pressure to compete at home, especially in a European championships.
As an experienced athlete, Frank knows how nerves can affect everyone in different ways and is careful to protect the mentality of the team, ensuring they don’t have extra pressure during their preparation by requesting that the media keep a good distance.
Supporting his junior team mate, Joshua DE LANGE in the -81kg category, – as well as the rest of the team – Frank is working in a dual capacity, on the tatami as a warm up partner and as physiotherapist for the team. This is a big job to undertake and carries a lot of responsibility, as for judo teams, the physio is key to helping manage the daily niggling injuries and keep them competition ready.
There is another year of study before Frank’s internship year which of course he hopes to do with his team in Papendal. For now however, he is still chasing the Olympic dream and continues in his bid for glory, next stop, Baku Grand Slam.
Author: Thea Cowen