2 October 2023


Sergei Aschwanden becomes an author


Parlez-vous francais? Do you speak French? If not, then you are missing out, at least at present, on the book debut of EJU Vice-President Sergei ASCHWANDEN. On 6 October, the 47-year-old French-speaking Swiss, together with philosopher Bernard WIRZ, will launch the 224-page work “Se construire par l’échec” – Building up through failure. A book about judo and how one can learn from the greatest defeats. The foreword was written by Nuno DELGADO (POR), another Olympic Judo medallist. At a later date – if Aschwanden has his way – English and German editions are to follow.

The air is still thick in Aschwanden’s house. “I haven’t shown the book to anyone yet, not even to my wife Sonja. And she was not well disposed towards me because of it. I can understand that, but I wanted to finalize the book without outside influence. That was extremely important to me.” He will give the book to Sonja and his children on 4 October at the latest, before the publication date or book presentation on 13 October in Lausanne.

Sergei Aschwanden spoke about his premiere book to the European Judo Union media team. The 2-time European Champion about…

… his friendship with Nuno Delgado: “We have the same skin colour and foreign origin. We appreciate each other and became friends after our first fight in 2003 at the European Championships in Düsseldorf. It was one of the toughest fights of my life. We were both injured afterwards, he at the eye, myself in the wrist and knee. I became European Champion and we celebrated my title together at the bar. It’s no coincidence that Nuno also mentions this fight in his preface. Today we work together on EJU education programmes. We tick very similarly.”

… the desire to write a book: “Away from my job, I personally had two priority goals for a good 5, 6 years: to write a book and to do my PhD. I got the idea for the book when I was invited to the National Council to talk about my life as a former athlete. My text part is completely mine, I wrote every line myself. I thought about the main messages and the thread of the story before each chapter and then just started writing.”

… the power of written words: “I like to talk a lot. It comes easily from my lips, happens spontaneously to a large extent and the effort is kept within limits. When you write a book, you turn over every word, every comma several times, think about it countless times. And then you check everything to make sure you really get to the heart of the story. Constantly questioning yourself leads to better results in writing. I think the book has become clearer, more meaningful, step by step.”

… the core statements of the book: “The title, building up through failure, sums up my sporting career. My biggest defeat was my first-round exit at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. I was in a safe lead with a score, but then lost by osae-komi and was eliminated as a big favourite and for the second time in a row – after Sydney 2000. I had to ask myself : What drives you in training? Why do you strive for an Olympic medal? It can’t be the prospect of money or fame – that doesn’t work as a judoka in Switzerland. It became clear to me: only when you find all the answers for yourself you will become ready for success. The second big aspect of the book is my skin colour. As a Swiss judoka, I was different from the others. I have only once been openly confronted with racism. Most of the time it’s fuzzy wording.”

… his co-author Bernard Wirz: “I tried to write down my success story as accurately as possible. He approaches the story more philosophically and abstractly. Bernard was the one who really got me to tackle the book project. He’s an experienced writer and knows what it takes to get a book off the ground – that helped me a lot, of course.”

… the completion of the book: “It took about 18 months from the first idea to the text submission. Last year, in December 2022, we had finished the book. Now, almost 11 months later, it is being published. In between are correction phases, lay-out, printing, etc.”

Facts, figures about the book:

Title: “Se counstruire par l’échec”

Authors: Sergei Aschwanden, Bernard Wirz

Number of pages: 224

Publisher: Editions Slatkine, Génève

Publication date: 06.10.2023

Price: 29 CHF

Author: EJU Media