Interview by Victoria Donu | Writing by IBSA
It goes without saying that 2020 has been a tough year for athletes around the world.
Forced to delay their Paralympic dreams by a year and unable to train or compete for long periods of time, judoka are no exception.
But Brazil’s Alana Martin, who has experienced her fair share of set-backs, is determined to reach her ultimate goal.
Martins lost out on her dream to win gold at her home Paralympics in Rio in 2016, but will get the chance to clinch the title again at the birthplace of judo at Tokyo 2020 in 2021.
“With the pandemic, all face-to-face training has been suspended, so I am trying to do my best at home, with the support of the technical committee," Martins said. "We hold periodic meetings in which we seek to monitor our training routine including food and sleep. This work is essential, even if it is at a distance”.
Martins’ well publicized rivalry is against Mexico’s Lenia Ruvalcaba whom she has fought many times since making her international debut in 2015.
The pair routinely swap places on the podium in the women’s up to 70kg with the Mexican claiming the Paralympic gold, only to miss out on the world title two years later. That was claimed by Martins.
Then at the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games, it was Ruvalcaba who was triumphant.
So in 2021 at the iconic Nippon Budokan, it really could go either way.
“I had prepared a lot for the Parapans. I also won silver in Toronto, in 2015 [the previous edition], so I really wanted to be champion in Lima mainly because I was against my biggest opponent,” Martins said.
Martins (far left) poses with her silver medal at Lima 2019, next to gold medallist Ruvalcaba
“I think that preparation is fundamental for a great result. I'm going to Tokyo to win the gold, and that will be the crowning achievement of good performance in all areas - technical, physical and psychological”.
A lesser athlete may have given up by now, worn down by the constant highs and lows. But the cycle spurs the Brazilian on.
In 2019 Martins claimed her second consecutive gold at the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Grand Prix in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
“I was very happy to be champion for the second time in the Uzbekistan Grand Prix. I had experienced personal problems the day before the competition, but I was very focused, and it gave me a lot of strength to overcome adversity. When we have a good preparation, the result comes.”
Martins is now waiting for when competitions start again. The two remaining Paralympic qualifiers will be rescheduled to 2021 and when they happen, the 25-year-old will be ready.
“I would like to thank all my fans, everyone who supports me, who follow my work and send positive energy. I always tell people never to give up on their dreams.”