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Natalia Kuziutina turns 30, ten years of top judo
8 May 2019 09:50
Natalia Kuziutina turned 30 years today. The Russian frontrunner of women’s judo will try to win another European title in the occasion of the European Games in Minsk in June. Kuziutina defends her European title of Tel Aviv last year which was her fourth European prize.
In 2012 Kuziutina lost the final to Chitu who celebrated her 31st birthday on Monday. In 2014 she lost the final to Majlinda Kelmendi, tomorrow 28. Three top women celebrating their birthday in three days in a row.
All three women are the frontrunners in their country when it comes to the real top performances but get some support of new talent in their countries.
Kuziutina realizes the tasks she has in Russia and as the oldest woman in the team she is feeding the youngsters with essential details all the time, not just in technique but also mentally.
“I’m happy being a leader within the women’s national team. I don’t step away from the responsibility to help and support my younger team members. When I myself was younger, older athletes did that for me too and that was important for me.”
Despite her bronze medal in Rio in 2016, she is seeking for that ultimate crown on her career. Either the World title in Tokyo or, ideally the Olympic gold medal. At the World Championships in Tokyo in 2010 she won her first World Championships (bronze) medal. Meanwhile she collected three bronze medals at the worlds and Olympic bronze as well as 14 World Cup victories including the Masters in 2015 and 2017 and five victories in the IJF World Tour at Grand Prix and Grand Slam level. Her first gold is perhaps her most precious one, ten years ago at the Grand Slam in Paris in a time where Chitu and Kelmendi were still nowhere in the top. From that time only Telma Monteiro, Sabrina Filzmoser and Eva Csernoviczki won World Tour events and are still active.
Russian female judokas are stepping up and getting stronger. “Judo is very popular in Russia. The men’s team is very strong and on top. Since the women train together with the men, the women are getting stronger as well,” Natalia explains. “If you would compare today’s results with those from ten years ago, you would notice a lot of progress.”
Kuziutina won't fight at the Grand Slam in Baku.
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