Well I’ve just competed in the World Championships for the third time. It is the hardest competition on the calendar and I have always managed to bring my best to the competition resulting in two wins at each of my previous Worlds.
This year the competition was held in Paris at Bercy Stadium, an intimidating 10,000 seater stadium. We arrived in Paris on Saturday morning and had a few days of light training before my day of competition on Tuesday.
Preparations actually went really well. I felt quite good on my feet and my body was feeling much fresher then it had in previous weeks of training. The other thing I was ecstatic about was that I had managed my diet really well and for the second competition in a row I made weight without having to sit in the sauna.
My first round fight was against Matthews Punza from Zambia. He was a relative unknown although his only result was making it to the top 16 of last year’s Worlds (better then my best ever result). As I expected, he was quite strong and stiff and I struggled to impose my grips early. However, by about 90 seconds in I felt I was wearing him down and got him penalised. I soon transitioned to a clock choke which I thought would end the match. Despite having it locked in and hearing him coughing and spluttering, he somehow escaped. I knew he would be dazed because he was almost unconscious so I pushed the pace immediately from the restart and a few seconds later I was able to throw him for ippon with my favourite drop seio nage.
I had about an hour’s break before my next fight, which I spent mainly relaxing because I had blown out my forearms pretty bad in the first fight. When it was time I took to the mat against Alex Amoako of Ghana, a veteran who I think I have fought and beat a couple of years ago but I’m not certain. He was a bit weaker then my previous opponent so I was able to set the pace of the fight a bit more and was winning by yuko due to his two shido’s to my one. I felt the fight was under control and in the final minute I decided not to do anything silly because he was exhausted and just defending. The referee deemed my controlling grip to be non combativety, and I was penalised. Now it was one yuko each in the final minute and I was angry. I got my strong grip again and dragged my opponent and was attempting footsweeps to show the referee’s I was being active and he was not. I got carried away and my opponent threw his foot out and countered one of my sweeps and I went over for ippon.
The loss tore me to shreds for various reasons. Firstly, with all due respect to my opponent I felt I was the better fighter, I was thrown with my opponents first meaningful attack and most of all I had thrown away a great opportunity to post a good result at the Worlds. My preparations had me confident I could hang with any of the top guys in the division and if I can hang in long enough I know I can post big wins.
Instead I was eliminated from the competition and left to rue from the stands what could have been.
I will compete on Sunday in the World Teams competition and following that will return home for some rest. My next competitions will be the Samoa World Cup in November followed by Tokyo Grand Slam and Qingdao Grand Prix in December. I’m sure with a good rest and fresh training cycle I will be able to get the results needed to have 1 foot on that plane to London by the close of 2011.
Thanks for everyone’s support.