It is the Olympic year and over 900 athletes from 50 nations, many of whom will be competing in Paris, are busy in preparation at the Mittersill OTC. One of those top athletes is the current European Champion of the -63kg category, Andreja LESKI (SLO). It has been two months since she took her title in Montpellier and she is certainly looking happy to be back training in 2024.
It’s good to turn the new page, new year brings the new challenges, I will just start as I did last year, like nothing happened. I have good points and I don’t feel that pressure anymore which is better for me, I can now go to competitions relaxed, and I don’t have national competition to worry about in Slovenia now so this is another load off.
Team Slovenia are known for their strength in Leski’s category, with former Olympic Champions, Urska ZOLNIR JUGOVAR and Tina TRSTENJAK having achieved the ultimate glory. On the left side of the judogi, we can see the three peaks, the ‘Triglav’, and there is great potential for Leski to become that third beacon.
We are so used to -63kg being the Slovenian category and of course I hear about it a lot, but yeah if I manage that I would love to take that place! For me, the Olympic Games is an experience mostly, I am aware that it can open many doors, it is very good with media and people like to watch, but for me it is just another big competition. So I try to not take it as something so special because I don’t need that pressure.
There is so much focus on the Olympic Games amongst the high performance athletes and within this environment it can be difficult to look outside of ones performance goals, however Leski highlights why judo is so important as an Olympic sport. As a judo community, we want the world to appreciate judo and spread the values, something Leski agrees on, and even highlights the equality in the upcoming multi-sport event.
It is very important to have judo as an Olympic sport and I also like the idea that in judo, there is a lot of equality with men and women. This year we have the same number of places for both genders and this is really great, I also like that this means when people are watching they can see that it is a sport for all. It is not weird anymore that women are doing judo everywhere. I also hope that more people will watch it!
Author: Thea Cowen