France’s Nathan Petit is using the successes of an incredible debut year to motivate himself towards a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
The 21-year-old has reflected on an impressive 2018 in which he emerged onto the podium at the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Judo World Championships in Odivelas, Portugal. Petiti grabbed bronze in the men’s up to 81kg after beating Ukraine’s Paralympic bronze medallist Oleksandr Kosinov.
It came just two months after his first World Cup in Atyrau, Kazakhstan, where he finished fifth.
“It was a big performance that I achieved by winning the bronze medal, I did not expect that I got the result at my first World Championship,” Petit said. “I am very happy with this result, it is a great satisfaction that rewards the work I am doing with my club.”
Petit’s sights are now set on the Grand Prix due to take place in 2019 as well as the European Championships in Genova, Italy, from 27-28 July.
“My goal is clear, I want to select myself for Tokyo so I have to work hard in training to progress and become stronger. The selection involves excellent results at IBSA Judo competitions so I have to perform on each of these competitions.
“Of course I want to finish on the podium at the next European Championships. To get there, I need to improve my judo to make the least possible mistakes.”
Credit: Rafal Burza
However as Petit notes, there are a few judoka that he has not yet taken on because he is so new to the circuit.
In the opening round in Odivelas he lost out to eventual world champion Lee Jung Min. He knows what he has to do next time they meet.
“There are many great opponents in my category, and I have not faced everyone yet. But I fought against the Korean Lee Jung Min and he is very strong, I also find that he has a beautiful judo. He beat me at the World Championship, next time it will be up to me to beat him.”
Petit has been doing judo since the age of six. His father teaches the sport and once he was introduced, Petit was hooked. At the age of 15 he began to lose his sight rapidly to Stargardt’s Disease but continued to train.
Now as expectations are rising in France, where judo is hugely popular, Petit’s own thoughts are turning to what could be possible.
“Obviously I dream of a medal at a Paralympic Games, it has always been one of my dreams. If I go to Tokyo, my goal is to get a medal, I have 1.5 years to get ready and go get it.”
The 2019 IBSA Judo calendar opens with a Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan, on 13 May. Regional Championships in Asia/Oceania, Americas and Europe follow before a further two Grand Prix into 2020.
The full 2019 IBSA Judo calendar is available here.