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Judo in the time of Covid-19: Alice Bellandi
21 May 2020 08:30
Italian Junior World Champion Alice Bellandi was heating up to make it her senior competitor very hard to beat her. Last year she took two medals in the IJF World Tour in Tel Aviv and Tbilisi in her category U70kg. She fought with some of the best but now she had to fight with the coronacrisis, not easy for any athlete. Italy was hit first and hard in Europe and it’s coming out of the lock-down. The IJF World Tour will have to wait for action. Oon Yeoh of JudoCrazy asked her about Bellandi’s action in the time of Covid-19.
JIC: Which part of Italy do you live in and how is the Covid-19 situation there?
AB: I live in Rome but my hometown is Brescia, in the North of Italy, which is badly affected. Luckily none of my loved ones has been infected by Covid-19. I haven’t seen them since December because I am stuck in Rome for sports reasons.
JIC: Have you been able to do some solo training during lock-down?
AB: Yes, I have been training. I live in a military sports center, and luckily I have athletic equipment here. I must train alone, but I can still do something.
JIC: In some countries judo is only practiced by competitors. How about in Italy?
AB: Over here some people do it for competition, some for passion or just as a hobby. The choice is there.
JIC: You started judo at a very young age. Do you recall how you felt about judo as a child?
AB: I recall liking the fact that I could play with bare feet! There was a sense of freedom about it that appealed to me.
JIC: What’s a typical journey like for an Italian child who wants to grow up to become a top competitor?
AB: You usually start in a gym in your city. At 15 you can compete in first category competitions, where you have the chance to try to qualify for national competitions.
JIC: What made you want to compete at such a high-level?
AB: When you start winning you never get enough of that feeling. So, you keep pushing on.
JIC: What do you parents think about you doing judo?
AB: Society has many prejudices about girls doing combat sports but I’m lucky that my parents have always been supportive.
JIC: What are some of the big sacrifices you have to make, to do what you do?
AB: Living away from my family and having to diet so strictly would be the main things, I would say. But no regrets. I get so much joy from judo.
JIC: When you took the Japanese player to Golden Score in the 2018 Junior World Championships, what was on your mind? Were you confident of winning?
AB: I was very confident about winning: I had trained so much, both physically and mentally, so the gold medal was the only acceptable result for me.
JIC: Earlier that year, you had won the Junior Europeans. How did that feel compared winning the Junior World’s?
AB: The feeling was different. I was happy I had won the Junior Europeans, of course, but I was even more excited about the possibility of taking part in the Junior World’s. After winning the Junior European’s I gained a lot of self-confidence and I felt I could win also the Junior World's.
JIC: Are you studying or working as well?
AB: I am enlisted in a military sports group, which in Italy is considered a permanent employment. This job gives me the ability to train full time. I am also enrolled at a university but I have paused my education for now so I can focus on training for the Olympics. After the Olympics, I’ll continue with my studies.
JIC: Do you have a favorite technique?
AB: I don’t have one favorite technique but in general, I like ashiwaza the most.
JIC: How do you normally develop your techniques?
AB: Basically, when I see a technique I like, I will work on it until I get it. I start by figuring out the fundamentals of that technique myself, then I would go to my coach to help me fine-tune it.
JIC: Are there any techniques you like which you haven’t been able to master?
AB: Honestly speaking, no. When a technique fascinates me, I will learn it at all cost. I will not stop until I’ve figured it out.
JIC: What are your short-term judo goals? What about long-term judo goals?
AB: My short-term goal is to win at the Olympics next year. Long term… I’m not sure. I usually focus on what’s just ahead of me.
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