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Super year for Aleksandar Kukolj, champion and father since Friday

23 Sep 2017 15:45

   Serbian Judo Federation
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Aleksandar Kukolj gave himself a break for a very good reason. The European Champion of Warsaw in April became father on Friday and while his wife is still in hospital Kukolj is in the sports venue for the European Open in Belgrade to promote the event, hand out signature, talk about judo and support his friends. Although he is a family man, he is also a passionate judo lover.

“On Friday I didn’t know what happened, it was a crazy day where in the morning I was able to attend a meeting with the Japanese embassy together with Nemanja Majdov and our president Ivan Todorov. Just after I had to come to hospital and was just in time for the birth of my son Tadija. It was not an easy birth, my wife needed an operation as my son was almost four 4 kilogram. But I am happy to be here and promote te event. I need to make choices, first of all this was the birth of Tadija, my family was crying and my wife still groggy and I was looking around what all just happened. It’s because of these emotions that I understand that it was special, but the real feeling is of course for my wife.”

“I went to the World Championships in Budapest with a virus. I will ill that week and not be able to behave normal, I went to Budapest late. It’s not that I want to give it a role of my loss in the semi final, but under normal circumstances I should have been in the final and beat them. A final between me and Toth wouldn’t surprise, but if outside myself anyone should win, it was obviously Nemanja. It’s great for Serbian judo and we were room-mates. We know each-other well, but we don’t train together. I did fight him twice in the Bundesliga. So I know what is possible and 1 September was his day. It wasn’t mine, I felt I was still too weak. You want to put it away but it’s in the back of your head. It took me more time to break the grip and Mihael Zgank has a special grip and I can normally break, but now it took me a lot of energy and in fact after seconds I felt, my power was slipping away, and my chances to win the match.”

“I won the first European title for Serbia and since then we have a lot of extra attention, but can you imagine what would happen if me and Nemanja would be in the world final? People outside our sport may think we’re in some mickey mouse competition. Two Serbians in the world final, that’s impossible. The judo people know the value of our performances this year and it’s good that we are good role models for the next generation. I want to share my knowledge later with the youth, I think I can add something. Now I know what it takes to win, it know what I’ve done in my life and the line is still up. The fifth place at the World Championships was still my best performance, but I went there to win certainly after being number one in the world and knowing that I could beat these guys, but not that day, it was slipping away.”

“I have gone through some tough periods in life, I had to day a lot myself. I was sort of responsible for the income of our family since my 18th, that had some impact. So I know what I did for it, I believe in myself and in the way I do things, the way I prepare, how I come into my “movie”. A judo day is like a movie. For instance in Warsaw I play the movie, like I saw it 100 times, I build up my cocoon and go my own way and it just felt good. I knew when I was on the tatami, that the only way they could beat me was via one straight ippon, but I also knew, they were not able to. My grip is a strong point, my technique and I know I get my chance in a match and it went very well.”

“Now I will build out my performances, so hopefully next week in Zagreb at the Grand Prix. I should be able to attend there if I can leave in time if all is under control at home. Now I am European Champion and I am 26 years, I can still win at least 3-4 European medals, win some medals at World Championships. I respect athletes like Varlam Liparteliani, who was fighting in my weight, he won eight European Championships medals including three titles. Now he has moved to U100kg and again he takes a medal at World Championships, for the fourth time in a row. People like Zantaraia, Ungvari, those judoka who won so many consequent medals, I want to achieve as well.”

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Related Judo Photos

  • Aleksandar Kukolj (SRB) - European Championships Warsaw (2017, POL) - © Christian Fidler
  • Aleksandar Kukolj (SRB) - World Championships Budapest (2017, HUN) - © Christian Fidler
  • Aleksandar Kukolj (SRB) - Grand Slam Abu Dhabi (2016, UAE) - © JudoHeroes & IJF Media, Copyright: www.ijf.org

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