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Sergei Aschwanden: The Judo Day Of My Life

1 Jun 2020 08:30

 Andy Wheeler and JudoInside / judo news, results and photos
WK 2001 Sergei Aschwanden

Beijing 2008 - the Mens 90kg Bronze medal match 2, was contested by Ivan Pershin of Russia and Sergei Aschwanden of Switzerland. As their names were announced, the casual listener could be forgiven for thinking Sergei had some slavic connection, when in reality, he was born in Switzerland to a Swiss father and a Kenyan mother, who chose the name because she liked the sound of it.

After a grueling contest, Sergei threw his Russian opponent beautifully for Ippon,  with 1 minute 44 seconds left. As the win dawned on him, Aschwanden dropped to his knees in celebration with his coach, ecstatic incredulity showing with every fibre of his being.

As he exited the arena, he threw his belt up into the crowd, that day someone got a great memento from a glorious occasion.

With Olympic Bronze, two European Championships and many international victories to his name,

Judoinside caught up with him to ask, “If you could live one day from your competitive judo life again, exactly as it happened, with no changes”.

Which day would you choose and why?”

Sergei replies…….

It’s a pleasure to answer this one.

At the risk of appearing contrarian, if I could live one day again, it would be my first round defeat, at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

Why you wonder,  would I choose this early exit over my Olympic Bronze or my two European Championship victories?

Let me tell you.

That loss was a moment of reflection, and contemplation, which led to a moment of clarity. It made me question everything, made me dig deep inside my soul for answers to some important questions.

Why Judo, and if judo, what is my aim, my goal, my ultimate dream. How must I proceed to achieve that dream.

This early defeat, freed me in a way that was transformational, where a later exit may not have.

I re-evaluated and changed my approach to everything,  my training, my life and my sport.

This introspection taught me, that the result is never the most important thing in life, our attitude to the  result, and how we arrive there are everything. This new outlook rekindled my love for judo.

Every day there’s something new to learn no matter your endeavour.

There is a Michael Jordan quote I like.

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something, but I can’t accept not trying”

Never overlook the destination, but always make sure, to cherish the journey

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  • Sergei Aschwanden (SUI) - Olympic Games Beijing (2008, CHN) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation
  • Sergei Aschwanden (SUI) - German Open Braunschweig (2007, GER) - © Robert Danis
  • Sergei Aschwanden (SUI) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation

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