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Judo is a lifestyle, but coming back as a mother is tough

5 Nov 2018 09:00

 a JudoCrazy and JudoInside cooperation    IJF Media Team / International Judo Federation

After having a baby, Japan's Kaori Matsumoto declared that she was ready to make a comeback for Tokyo 2020. Getting back as a mother isn't that easy. Just a hand full of strong judo women had a successful comeback, but most struggle or their mind has changed. It let's admit, there's more important than judo, but there's nothing more important for our lifestyle.

However, after performing poorly at the just-concluded Kodokan Cup, Matsumoto has decided to give up that quest.  "Perhaps I've now reached the  stage where I'm no longer going all out and taking risks,"  the 31-year-old said after losing in the first round of the women's -57kg division at Chiba Port Arena, outside Tokyo.

Making a comeback after retirement is never an easy thing. Although she had a tough knee injury, USA's Olympic Champion of 2012 Kayla Harrison managed to do it but quite a few failed in their attempts to make it to world level. In Harrison's case not only did she make it to Rio, she won her second Olympic gold there. But she is an except. Automne Pavia seems to have found the pace after having a baby.

It’s a time for decisions, move forward to Tokyo 2020 or bow out like Erika Miranda did last week. Abigel Joo recently had a baby, Taciana Cesar (Lima) also and both haven’t decided yet when to make a comeback. Rosalba Forciniti also had a baby after her Olympic bronze in 2012 and made a comeback, somewhat surprising and actually not even so bad. But getting back at Olympic level it not applicable in this case. Brigita Ljuba also made her comeback recently at European level. Hungarian Anett Meszaros, said to make the step and she has the time now to try to qualify also as is ahead of Joo to give birth to a baby. So it’s possible: ask it Marijana Miskovic, Katarzyna Klys who made a really successful comeback.

It's difficult because after you've retired, you no longer go through the punishing regime of twice a day training. Mentally, you also tell yourself that chapter of my life is over. I can now look forward to new things.

To come back after that is very difficult. Even if you can get back into good physical shape, the competitive edge is gone. It's a different thing when you return after a long break due to injury. Although you might not have been able to train during the recovery period, the hunger is still very much there. So it is just a matter of getting back into the right physical shape. With a comeback from retirement, it's much more than that. The mental competitive edge is gone and is very hard to get back.

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Related Judo Photos

  • Taciana Cesar (GBS) - Grand Prix The Hague (2017, NED) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation
  • Automne Pavia (FRA), Kaori Matsumoto (JPN) - Olympic Games London (2012, GBR) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation
  • Anett Meszaros (HUN) - Grand Prix Budapest (2015, HUN) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation

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