It’s hard to believe that this whole journey I’ve been on has less than four weeks left. The final month of preparation whilst exciting is also the most nerve racking.
To catch you up on where I’m at I will explain how this last phase of preparation was planned out.
After a lot of planning it was decided the best course of action would be for us to do a solid preparatory phase of training at home in May and June, compete at the National Championships and then head to Europe late June. We started in Prague for the European Cup competition and Nymburk training camp. Moving on from there we’ve gone to Casteldelfels in Spain for another EJU training camp. We are then going on to Hungary for 12 days of training, this will be followed by a week in Walsall, England and finally on to the Olympic Village.
The opportunity to train with the guys we’ll be fighting at the games was too good to pass up so unfortunately we won’t return home until after it’s all done.
So…. The competition in Prague didn’t go too well for me as I made a tactical mistake against Israel in the first round and was thrown for Ippon in the final minute despite leading by a Yuko. Luckily, the Nymburk training camp had 12 of the guys contesting the 66 kg division in London so I was quickly able to switch my focus to them and how I would methodically break down their styles and work on effective game plans.
I’ll elaborate on that; so I don’t know what the future holds for me post London and to be honest, right now I don’t care. I am treating July 29 as the final competition of my life and will prepare for it accordingly. Now, I am pretty sure that out of the 32 guys in my division come London I am the only one with a Job and a Mortgage.
With that in mind I know exactly how much work I’ve put in over the years and where my strengths and weaknesses lie. My plan in this final phase is to fight my competitors as often as possible and regardless of how many times I get caught, I am looking for small chinks in their armour, where I can pinch a Yuko or nullify their strong grips enough to get them into Shido trouble etc, etc.
Don’t get me wrong I am not enjoying getting thrown around like a rag doll (thankfully not everyone is doing that to me!), I am putting every ounce of energy into beating these guys but I am under no illusions that I will be the most technically accomplished player stepping on to the mat on the day. I have good cardio, my strength is almost comparative to the top guys, my grips are unorthodox and annoying and my Newaza transitions are ok.
The self talk I have in my head for every second of these randori’s is to just find a way to bring them into my world. There has been hundreds of occasions in Judo where a top player has lost to some numptie (ie. Me) in a fight where the stronger player just couldn’t impose his game on the numptie, I need to channel all of my energy into pushing the odds my way.
It is definitely frustrating when the best guys in the world throw me 10-12 times in 5 minutes, but what has been happening and has given me some hope is that almost all of these randori’s I’ve managed one or two throws too, call them lucky or sympathy Ippons, they count in my mind! Long term this isn’t great for my development because it is showing that I am well behind them but I just need to find a way for my lucky or sympathy Ippon to be the first one on July 29. Like the famous phrase in Judo goes ‘only the first Ippon counts’.
In between fighting my Olympic competitors (14 of them in Casteldelfels) I have had plenty of good randori with local Spanish Judoka and national team players from all over the world. My focus in these randori’s is to drill the things I want to do to the top guys. If they don’t work or I get thrown by these guys it’s no biggie, they won’t be on the mat in London so I don’t care.
Well, our coach was nice enough to give us today off training as we were all exhausted and I have used the day to catch up on laundry, sleep and write this blog! Tomorrow it is back on the grind for the last 4 days of this camp before we head to Hungary.
I’ll post up another progress blog and probably ramble on about more of the Judo garbage that goes through my head once we’re a bit closer to the games.