On the second day of the Paris Grand Slam 2024, Anna BERNHOLM of Sweden competed for the final time on the IJF World Judo Tour.
The decision to retire on arguably the grandest stage was made mid December,
I was undecided whether or not to compete one more time or just to call it a day, but I decided that it should be Paris. At the moment I don’t have any plans to stay in judo so it was also a chance to see a lot of people I’ve spent so much time on tour and training camps with. This isn’t the first time I thought about quitting, but there was also something keeping me in.
Following the London 2012 Olympic Games, Anna debuted on the tour in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, taking the bronze medal, and it has been quite an adventure since then. Claiming European Championship, Masters and various other medals during her career, Anna tells us about her highlight,
I think it was definitely my bronze medal in the European Championships in Minsk, I have some great medals but in the end it was a Championships so this one means the most.
With 16 IJF World Tour medals, certainly no easy feat, and it’s been 14 years since her first appearance with much changing in that time. One of the more recent is the addition of Sally CONWAY to the Swedish coaching staff. Former adversaries became a team.
I’m so glad that Sweden managed to catch Sally before anyone else, and she knew me so well already. Also, I knew just how good she was technically and knew she would bring a lot to the team. I haven’t had the opportunity of so much one on one as I’m based in Stockholm and she is in Malmo, but this was good for us.
So back to today, drawing first was another opponent for many years, Kim POLLING (NED) and although the win went to the Dutch athlete, Anna seemed very content with her decision to hang up her belt and say goodbye to competition. Refereed by Veli-Matti KARINKANTA, he bowed the women and asked Anna to remain on the tatami, to which she received a huge applause from the staff and crowd, signing off on a wonderful career.
I’m very proud of the medals I’ve won, these people I’m fighting, they’re the best and you really have to be on your top form to beat any one of them. I’m happy about my career and I know this is was just my time. Judo has been such a huge part of my life, I started when I was seven or eight, so when people ask how long, it’s just a very long time!
So what is next for Anna?
I’ve actually been studying medicine for the past two years and that takes up a lot of my time right now and my body is okay so at least leaving with that! I am ready for the next chapter but I don’t always know if you can be fully prepared, it will be hard but it’ll be good, leaving judo I needed something to jump straight in to. During my education I’m trying different areas of medicine so I haven’t decided what I’ll settle on, orthopaedics is quite interesting and I think because of the sport it interested me but I’m still so early on in my studies and there are many interesting areas, we will see.
Author: Thea Cowen