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Mums in judo: Sarah Mazouz: how to get back on the mat after pregnancy?
18 Sep 2017 15:10
Pregnancy is probably one of the most delicate topics in high-level sport. A few years ago, giving birth was considered to be an end to a career or at least a little death. Today still, some athletes are discriminated and left on the side because of giving birth during their career. But more and more, athletes are getting back into the game after this wonderful and challenging period.
In judo, we have many examples of fighters who became even stronger and found their way back to podiums: Katarzyna Klys from Poland, World bronze medalist in 2015; Anabelle Euranie from France, silver medalist at European Championships 2015 and qualified for Rio Olympic Games 2016; Marijana Miskovic Hasanbegovic from Croatia, still fighting in the World Judo Tour… 8 months before the olympic qualification started. Judoinside met four judokas, all with different stories, in order to know more about their future and goals. This week Sarah Mazouz from Gabon is the first one to get into the arena and tell us about the joy of motherhood and the hard road back to the spotlight.
How did you react when you first learned that you were pregnant? Did you expect that or not?
It was planned, so of course I was really happy. I have to admit that I was also a bit afraid because I didn´t expect it to work so fast. I had the feeling to be ready without being ready.
What is the opinion of your federation regarding the situation?
Well, I don´t really know what to say… I haven´t received any news from my federation since I tried to reach them after Rio Olympic Games. I don´t know if this silence concerns my pregnancy or not. The relations between me and my federation have always been good, so I am a bit surprised. Regarding the Ministry of sports, I did a funding application to get support for my trainings costs, nutrition, rehabilitation and for my first travel planned in December: they clearly said that it would be difficult because of my one year break and pregnancy. I feel really sad because one year ago, I was qualified directly to the Olympic Games. I was among the fourteen best athletes in the world! I have always been serious and professional. There is a new minister so let´s see what is coming next…
How did you live this period? Did you keep a physical activity and a balanced diet?
I learned that I was pregnant after spending four years training and competing all around the world without rest. I was mentally and physically exhausted. To be honest, I didn´t train that much, I ate all I wanted to eat and in the-end, I took 28 kilos! My pregnancy was easy, without nausea, I am lucky.
How did you face the way back to training in a physical and mental way?
I went back on the mat two weeks ago and it was better than I thought. My baby girl was born by caesarean section so I had to be patient. I started judo again two months after giving birth as my doctor recommended. I did only kumikata randoris. I was afraid to be out of the rhythm but as I trained physically before everything was good. I was really motivated, I couldn´t wait to touch the judogi again. I took lot of weight so doing judo was always on my mind. You can´t imagine how I felt at that moment. I was feeling free. This break made me realize that I still wanted to achieve things in judo.
Can you talk about your daily training schedule with a baby?
I have the chance to train in my own center so baby can come with me. My husband is also my coach so He gives me lot of support. I have physical trainings every day and there is always someone to worry for my little Neila. Sometimes daddy looks after baby while he makes mama suffer! (laughs) She is really calm. She just need to eat good before. During my judo sessions, my mother in law stays with her.
Is it possible to combine breastfeeding and training?
It´s ok, we just have to find good sport bras. Uchi komis are sometimes painful when the chest is full of milk but well it´s not really an obstacle.
In your opinion what are the good points and disadvantages to be mother and high level athlete?
Pregnancy is like a rebirth, we feel like We can accomplish everything, my motivation is stronger than before. However, we have to do lot of sacrifices, sometimes we don´t enjoy enough time with baby and there is not enough rest as well. Actually, I train and look after my baby girl, I have my own company and soon I will start a part-time job. We manage all because there is no other option.
If you had to give advice to athletes aiming to give birth during their career…
Just listen to your heart, if you want a child, do it now if not you will never do it. In sport, we are able to struggle against every situation that life gives to us. Just go for it. When I wake up in the morning and I see Neila smiling, it´s the most beautiful present.
When will be your first competition?
I am thinking about competing again in the beginning of 2018, I would like to train in Japan in December to be well prepared. For the moment, I get ready at home with my husband. I will probably start with local tournaments to go back to my level step by step.
What about Tokyo 2020?
Of course it´s in my mind! I will try to take part again in the Olympic Games. Tokyo is my favorite city in the world, it´s the land of judo and that makes it more exciting.
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