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Judo in the time of Covid-19: Mikita Sviryd
19 May 2020 09:45
Mikita Sviryd is a popular guy. The Belarussian athlete has many friends all around the judo world and as a judoka he worked himself up from a successful junior, to runner-up at the European U23 Championships, even twice… until he started to win medals at senior level. At the European Open in Minsk he threw current World Champion Jorge Fonseca with his devastating weapon, he took silver at the Grand Prix in The Hague and all the time there was Peter Paltchik (ISR) to stop him. Oon Yeoh didn’t stop asking questions to Mikita.
JIC: How’s the Covid-19 situation in your country? Are judo clubs still closed?
MS: There is no official quarantine in Belarus! Judo clubs are closed but national team players are able to train at the Chizhovka Arena sports center.
JIC: How popular is judo in Belarus?
MS: Judo is quite popular here. We have an Olympic champion named Ihar Makarov and there are many judo clubs for children.
JIC: How did you get started in judo?
MS: My father, Leonid Svirid, is now the head coach of the team. He is a former high-level judoka, having competed in two Olympic Games: Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000. So, as you can imagine, it was only natural for him to get me into judo. But I liked it. He didn’t have to force me to do it.
JIC: When did you decide you were going to become a serious competitor?
MS: I was 16 years old when I won a bronze medal at the European Cup for cadets in Teplice. After that I was hooked and judo became my life.
JIC: Are you a full-time judoka or do you hold another job as well?
MS: I am only a judoka. My salary comes from the government. In Belarus, all top athletes are supported by the state.
JIC: The technique you are most known for is the Khabarelli.
MS: The Khabarelli technique is perfect for me. I’m 196cm tall so it’s easy for me to grab my opponent’s belt and pull him in close. My brother taught me this technique. Actually, he just showed me once and after that I started trying it in randori. Until today, I don’t do drills on it. I just use it whenever I’m fighting.
JIC: Are you a fan of Georgian judo?
MS: I like watching the Georgians fight. I like their spirit, their confidence, their techniques. I especially admire Luka Maisuradze, Tato Grigalashvili and Gela Zaalishvili.
JIC: Do all top judokas in Belarus train at the same place or do they train at different judo centers?
MS: All the best judokas train in one place at our sports center in Minsk.
JIC: Do you have a lot of randori partners?
MS: Yes, there are about five to six high-level players who can give me a good fight.
JIC: Do you do other forms of grappling?
MS: In training I also practice wrestling. I quite enjoy wrestling.
JIC: How do you feel about the postponement of the Olympics?
MS: Well, I was ready to fight for a medal this summer but it doesn’t matter. Health and safety is more important. Anyway, the date might have changed but my goal remains the same.
JIC: What’s the best thing about judo?
MS: I like judo because even if you don’t become a champion, you will become a good person. So that’s a 100% win either way.
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