Olympian and World Championships medallist Edinanci Silva has joined the Brazilian Para judo team as a coach as they build towards the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Silva, a well known face of Brazilian sports thanks to his two bronze medals from the International Judo Federation World Championships in 1997 and 2003, was recruited by the team to help prepare for the upcoming Paralympics.
"It's been great, because I love to train and, without the responsibility of the old competition routine, it is a lot more enjoyable for me,” Silva said. “I end up getting lighter in spirit also to pass positive energy to them. So, it's an exchange.”
"It is an immense pleasure to have him on the mat, bringing such huge experience. He has a lot of knowledge, he was in the national selection for a long time and is here today teaching his lessons. And he embraced our goal of reaching the Paralympics well. He charges us, pulls when we're tired. That adds up a lot," Alana Maldonado, the women’s up to 70kg world champion, said.
As Silva fought all his life at a weight close to Maldonado’s category, the two end up duelling frequently in training. They have noticed small details that differentiate Olympic from Paralympic judo.
"Their sensitivity ends up being much greater,” Silva said. “The conventional judoka is limited in the perception of the technique. They [Para judoka] don't. They feel it right at the time of the grip. You weigh it to one side, they know what you're going to do. You make a move, and they get ahead," said the 43-year-old who retired in 2019.
Maldonado continued: "They have a lot of movement, a quicker grip. In my case, I am B2 and I can still see a little and have the reflex of when she is coming with her hand, rotate, change the direction. This helps a lot when I have to do this with an opponent.”
The time with the Brazilian Paralympic team has been so enriching that Silva decided to use the experience in the classes he gives in two social projects in the Greater ABC region, where he still lives today:
"I take a lot of what I am learning here. Whenever I have the opportunity, I sell the students, I take their vision, to feel this movement, to have this perception of time of entry that the Paralympic judo athletes have.”