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Judo in the time of Covid-19: Amelie Rosseneu

22 Mar 2020 13:25

 Judocrazy by Oon Yeoh    Fighting Films

Amelie Rosseneu was a six-time Belgium national champion. She won the U48kg gold at the 2010 European U23 Championships and was the winner of the 2012 Qingdao Grand Prix. She is currently based in Israel, where there is also a lock-down in place. Judo partner JudoCrazy asked Amelie about her situation.

JC: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

A: I’m originally from Belgium and have been living in Israel for a number of years now. I was fighting for qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics and was ranked 5th in the world when I got injured and had to quit. After retiring from high-level competitive sports, I searched for new challenges and a new career. I was always interested in nutrition and since I have a degree in nutrition and dietetics, I decided to start my own clinic.

JC: Are you doing any coaching at all?

A: Yes, at the moment I’m helping to coach the women’s national cadet team. I’m also coaching at a few clubs. So, although I’m not an athlete anymore I’m lucky to be still be on the mat on a daily basis.

JC: Do you still have time to do judo yourself?

A: Unfortunately, due to bad knees, I can’t do tachi-waza randoris anymore but once in a while I do join the newaza randoris.

JC: What do you miss most about international competition?

A: I mainly miss the excitement of winning a fight. There is nothing that can compare to the adrenaline rush of competition.

JC: How has it been adjusting to life after competition?

A: As an athlete you have a clear training regime that prepares you for the next competition. You know if you do everything right your chances of winning are higher. In real life things are less straight forward. There are many more variables involved when it comes to doing well in life – which makes everything more interesting but also harder. Also, because success comes at a much slower pace, you don’t get the adrenaline rush you get from competition.

JC: You published a book a few years back. How has that been?

A: My book, Making Weight & Everything Else, has been more successful than I dared dream. Since its publication in 2017, we’ve had a few reprints and even had a German edition published as well as a special addition, with different photographs, published by Fighting Films. The book has also led to a lot of requests for me to give lectures and conduct workshops about nutrition for combat sports.

JC: Why the special edition with Fighting Films?

A: Personally, I’ve always loved the Fighting Films brand, as they’re the best at what they do. After publishing the book, we discussed the possibility of working together. Besides the book, I’m also maintaining a nutrition blog on their Superstar website. It’s really nice to be a part of their amazing platform.

JC: You also do some online counseling?

A: When I moved from Belgium to Israel a few years ago I wanted to continue counselling my clients in Belgium. So, we did it online. After my book came out, several athletes around the world contacted me for counseling services, so my online business expanded.

JC: How is the Covid-19 situation in Israel right now?

A: We’ve had more than 1000 infected people and one death so far. Measurements to contain the virus are becoming stricter by the day. Schools have been closed for two weeks now, and last week all contact sports were stopped. People aren’t allowed to leave their homes without a valid reason.

JC: So, all judo clubs are closed?

A: All clubs and even the national team have stopped training. Nobody knows for how long but everyone is making efforts to be creative with home training and keeping their spirits high. The women’s team is publishing on Facebook clips of players doing home training almost on a daily basis. 

JC: Do you think this will impact the long-term popularity of judo in Israel?

A: No. I believe most clubs will survive this crisis because judo is actually a very popular sport here. But let’s hope this crisis won’t last too long because the financial damage to judo clubs is harsh.

JC: What do you think club coaches should be doing right now?

A: Keep thinking of new ways to keep club members active and involved in judo. Give them challenges, send them judo videos and home trainings ideas. It’s time to get creative. Keep the player’s spirits up and show your athletes that you care about them.

JC: There are some countries – although it’s getting rarer these days – where people are still doing judo. What do you think of that?

A: I think it’s impossible to maintain social distance while doing judo. Judo is fun but health is more important.

JC: Did you follow the IJF World Tour before it was shut down?

A: I did. Even when I was busy, I would leave it playing in the background. I mainly followed the progress of Israeli and Belgian players but when I had free time, I would watch the entire competition. I particularly loved watching fights between (Israel’s World Champion) Sagi Muki and (Belgium’s World Silver Medallist) Matthias Casse because whoever wins, I’d be happy.

JC: Do you think the Olympic Games will carry on as scheduled and should it?

A: The situation at the moment doesn’t look good. I really hope that by July life will return back to normal but even so, that doesn’t mean the Olympics should necessarily take place in July. Very few athletes have a dojo and gym at home and even those who do might not have partners to train with let alone partners to do randori with. Judo conditions are hard to simulate with other training forms. Nothing replaces real randori, for example. The longer the athletes are out of their usual training routine the longer it will take to get them back to their optimal performance form. Surely, this is the same for other sports as well. So, I don’t think it’s ideal at all to have the Olympics as scheduled.

JC: Any words you would like to share with other judokas?

A: Stay positive. From any crisis situation something positive can emerge. In judo sometimes you need to adjust your routine and look for better solutions. So now is the time to be innovative. Don’t sit still but look for ways to develop yourself despite the shut-down.

Follow JudoCrazy's COVID stories here

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Related Judo Photos

  • Amelie Rosseneu (ISR) - European Championships Tel Aviv (2018, ISR) - © Emmeric Le Person
  • Amelie Rosseneu (ISR) - Grand Prix Düsseldorf (2016, GER) - © Christian Fidler
  • Amelie Rosseneu (ISR) - © Sent by athlete

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