- Date: 10-04-2020
- Related to: Judo
By Victoria Donu and IBSA
Athletes across the world are currently coming to terms with the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games due to the impact of the coronavirus.
For four years – sometimes longer – they have trained and competed, all towards the career defining moment of stepping out at a Paralympics.
As everyone tries to manage the impact of the wise re-scheduling of Tokyo 2020 and many other major sporting events this year, including a home Grand Prix in Nottingham, British judoka Jack Hodgson summarises his own feelings:
“Now the team is in the grieving process due the postponement of the Games, however we are positive and looking forward to what the next year brings! We are staying active in constant communication with each other and our coaches.
“It has affected our ability to train as of now, but we are trying our best to create a routine and a system of normality and training from home. Our coaches are working incredibly hard behind the scenes to create a plan of action and keep us updated with programmes and support.”
The European bronze medallist from the men’s over 100kg has every reason to be optimistic. At the age of 23 he already has the experience of one Paralympics under his belt, as well as fights with many of the top judoka since he made his debut in 2015.
“The Paralympic Games in Rio was great. The experience was phenomenal. It showed me where I need to be and what to work on. In Tokyo I want to experience it again from a different perspective with much more preparation. We focus on performance.”
Hodgson remains determined despite a tough year in 2019 with several injuries.
“I was pleased with my performance however the results are somewhat disappointing because the field is very strong, and all my opponents are excellent fighters. I am fully aware that I am still one of the younger fighters in the category and I have every belief that my time will come.”
The competition is fierce and Hodgson will face a tough group of athletes in the over 100kg.
Iran’s world champion Mohammadreza Kheirollahzadeh is who Hodgson considers among his biggest opponents. South Korea’s Choi Min-Ho and Paralympic bronze medallist Yordani Fernandez Sastre from Cuba are also big hitters.
“It’s the strength that they have which makes a difference. Strength is something that you can train but it develops more with age and experience. Strength peaks between 28-35. As for me, I am 23 and I am a few years behind, therefore I am rather realistic. My time will come, if not in Tokyo then in Paris [in 2024] or Los Angeles . I’m sure it will.”
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will now take place from 24 August – 5 September 2021. The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) is revising the qualification pathway for IBSA Judo following the cancellation of the remaining two Grand Prix events in Nottingham and Baku, Azerbaijan.