Since the Olympic Games in TOKYO 2021 and her decision to move from the -48kg category to -57kg, a two-weight difference, Daria BILODID (UKR) has competed in four tournaments so far. The 22-year-old is number 40 in the IJF ranking (-57kg), won the European Cup in Riga and was placed 7th at the World Championships in Tashkent last October. However, if this would not be enough, the 2-time World champion (-48kg) needed to cope with COVID-19 measures and the Russian invasion in her home country. At the OTC in Mittersill (AUT) Daria found time to speak about her new life and expectations for 2023 on the road to the Olympic Games in Paris.
How do you feel at the start of the new year and the upcoming season? Are you in good shape already?
I feel good and ready to start in the new year. I am excited about the new challenges, lots of competitions waiting, lots of training camps on the road to Paris 2024.
How comfortable do you feel in the -57 category already?
The transition takes time of course. I am adapting physically and technically step by step and I feel much better than last year. But honestly, I don’t like to speak about my shape and my progress too much. My results in 2023 should speak for themselves.
What are your expectations for the upcoming season?
Frankly speaking, I want to win European Championships, World Championships, Grand Slams and as many tournaments as possible. I have the spirit of a champion. The new weight category is a new challenge and I feel excited.
Because the Olympic Games in Tokyo had to be suspended for a year, the current Olympic campaign only lasts three years. Does this put you at a disadvantage?
I think it’s better this way. The Tokyo campaign with 5 years was too long for me. In 2019 and 2020 I felt in a really good shape, afterwards I had to face more and more problems, weight, injuries and my mental preparation in general. With an Olympic period of three years only, I feel less pressure.
After the Tokyo Games without spectators, how much are you looking forward to the Paris Games?
The Olympic Games in Tokyo happened to be really strange for all of us, being locked up in the Olympic Village. I expect a great show in Paris. French people love Judo. I hope we will not face any COVID-19-countermeasures again.
When and where will you start your competition season in 2023?
I will be in Paris at the Grand Slam on 4th of February and I want to attend the training camp right after.
How is the Olympic Training Camp in Mittersill so far?
It is really important for me. You know, I am currently training in Valencia. I do train a lot including randori. But this is not the same. Here in Mittersill I can train with a lot of champions. I feel very tired after a week of training, but for the preparation it’s perfect.
You have been in Austria for the OTC before?
It’s already my fifth time here. I really love this place and I am happy to be back after a break of 3 years due to COVID. Mittersill happens to be one of the best training camps in the world, it’s a great place and the atmosphere is really nice. The quality of the camp could not be better.
How much do you feel at home in Valencia already?
During Judo training, I feel very much at home there. The coaches, physios etc. are helping me a lot. Thanks to all the Spanish people for the big support. The longer the situation back home lasts, the more difficult it gets. Of course I really would like to go back to Ukraine, but I need to stay in Spain in order to be safe. This is a very difficult situation. Some days I am in a bad mood or even depressed. But Judo helps me not to think and worry too much about the situation. In other words: Judo helps me cope with my new life.
Author: EJU Media