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Blessed Esther Stam retires as athlete
7 Sep 2017 10:45
Georgian Dutch woman Esther Stam retired as a judoka. The remarkable transfer she made brought her to the Olympic Games and World Championships. Last Sunday she contributed to the Georgian Mixed team. “This is it. Since I was a little girl, I have loved judo and I still do. I have pain in my heart saying goodbye to being a high level athlete, but I am ready to start my new life.”
Stam became Cadet European Champion in 2002 and 2003 and won the EYOF in that same year. In 2007 she won the European U23 title and qualified with a surprising European silver medal in 2016 in Kazan for the Rio Olympic Games.
Among her highlights were the Universiade in Shenzhen were she won gold in 2011. She won four World Cups in Lisbon, Warsaw, Sofia and Madrid and 15 medals in total at Olympic qualifying events. On her Facebook Stam thanks all people who helped her during her career.
I was always looking up to the people who fought in the big tournaments. First I would dream of going to the national championships. Later this turned into the European and World championships and of course the biggest dream was to fight in the Olympic Games. It's still unbelievable that all of those dreams became true. Of course, as an athlete, you always dream of more. I never got a world or olympic medal. But I can't feel sad about that. There were so many amazing moments.
I think about my first European cadet title in Hungary, when I was only 15 years old. I think about the other European cadet and junior title, but also about winning the EJOF, the Universiade, my first world cup in Lisbon, my first gold medal for Georgia in Madrid, getting third at the European club championships in my hometown and of course getting the silver at the European Championships last year. For the last fifteen years I dedicated my life to judo. I gave everything and did absolutely everything in my knowledge and power to achieve the most.
People might not always have understood the choices I made, but I always made them with my heart and tried to do the right thing. And I am happy that there were so many people that stood by me along the way. I can't even start to thank all the amazing people I met all over the world, sometimes in the craziest places. Many became my friends.
I was probably injured half of my career, so I have to thank all the people that had to 'fix' me all the time, at the most impossible moments.
I feel incredibly blessed. I have pain in my heart saying goodbye to being a high level athlete, but I am ready to start my new life.
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Franziska Zanker (GER)
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