Daria Mezhetskaia: My bear is very patient
Recently we had a long interview with Daria Mezhetskaia, there was so much to tell that we’d like to you meet her once more. With Irakli Khmelidze asking her all the details of her current situation, we didn’t want to withhold any info. European Games winner Mezhetskaia talks about her practices, her guilty pleasure and social media approach.
JIC: Daria, we can say that your judo career has been quite successful so far, including those results from various age competitions. But each time there was some obstacle and you could not win the gold. How do you feel today about that? Has last year’s success made you more confident?
DM: I think everything goes in its due course. I am very patient, self-confident and I feel that big successes are yet to come. I have not yet fully revealed my potential. I just keep working hard and waiting for the gold medals.
JIC: Other girls we asked the same, because we truly believe that your weight category -57kg is arguably the most competitive in the world as well as in Russia with many capable players. Who do you think are your main rivals? Who are your toughest opponents you find the most difficult to defeat?
DM: To be honest I cannot single out anyone. It is interesting to fight against everyone of them and the difficulties you might be experiencing could be different with everyone as well. But I prefer to be focused on myself - to what extent I am ready and determined to fight.
JIC: As we mentioned above a lot of girls are practicing judo in Russia. Yet still are there enough sparing partners in your club? Or do you get more quality randories during the trainings with your national team? How about the camps abroad?
DM: Since then when I was selected for the national team, almost the whole years I spent being on camps. Mainly we are based in Sochi, Because of this I hardly ever train in my club "Olimp" of Samara these days. But in the past there were more than enough quality randori partners for me in that club, such as Zabludina, Kondratieva, Rumiantseva and many others.
JIC: Which club do you represent? Big one? How successful? How many judokas train there approximately?
DM: I represent Sergei Gerasimov's club "Olimp" from Samara. As for the women this club is one of the most successful in Russia. If we look back at history 3 players at the Olympic games, also medalists of senior European Championships and many high quality junior and cadet judokas of international level all came from my club.
JIC: Generally what is a typical training day like for you?
DM: At 8 am stand up and stretching
10:30 am tatami - about 2 hours
dinner and rest
16:30 pm physical training - about 1.5 hours
JIC: Besides judo, what do you like to do at free time?
DM: Most of all I prefer to have a good sleep. Then if I have enough time I like to go to the cinema, do some shopping. I also like to watch various staff on Youtube, some Russian TV series for example. I would like to attend sport gymnastics competitions very much but could not find time for that so far.
JIC: In the final of the European Games you fought Nora Gjakova of Kosovo who was the reigning champion at that time and was number one seeded. How did you prepare yourself for that fight taking into consideration that she is very tough opponent who had beaten you previously.
DM: Gjakova is really very strong judoka. She had beaten me couple of years before. But I think within that time I made considerable progress, became much stronger both physically as well as technically. You know, there was no special, different motivation against her. I simply tried to stick to my coach's chosen strategy and this helped me to win.
JIC: Is it usually hard on you when you lose competitions? What is your usual behavior after a loss when you come back into the warming hall
DM: Not always the same. Sometimes happens I get very angry on myself, especially when I know that I was really in good shape and lost only because I made some foolish mistakes. Sometimes I accept the loss calmly, realizing that I was not as fully prepared as I wanted to be.
JIC: Do you study and analyze your opponents in order to figure out strategies to beat them? Do you watch videos of them? How do you motivate yourself before the competitions?
DM: Yes, I watch videos from time to time but mostly I try to focus on analyzing my mistakes. I try not to be distracted by anything and to stay fully concentrated on myself. I always try to keep calm and to maintain my self-confidence.
JIC: What is your guilty pleasure, what do you like to eat in a period when it’s allowed.
DM: At the cadet age I was a little prankster, messing all things up. All the coaches were on tense because of my endless tricks. I simply loved to have fun :)
JIC: We see in Instagram Russian women really like to treat themselves well. Lots of joy, friendships, good clothing, lots of selfies and tiktoks. What do YOU like to show in social media?
DM: Actually I don't like to make selfies, maybe only when playing fool. If there is something really funny I try to show it on Instagram. But mostly I upload some judo throws or something like that.
JIC: We saw that you’ve trained with your big bear, was he a good uke?
DM: Ha ha, my bear is very patient and submissive, tries to fight till the end. I have sewn him 6 times already. So, he is constantly having an operations :)
JIC: When looking at you, hardly anyone can assume that this girl, with good sense of humor, with childish cute face and a pretty smile on it, can suddenly turn into a ferocious fighter. How it comes you are able to do it?
DM: I don't really know what to answer on that. It is simply my concentration and composure.
JIC: Do you focus on judo or are you studying as well?
DM: I finished my studies in 2019. When I returned from the European games I passed the final exams and got a Bachelor's degree. Now I am fully concentrated on judo.
JIC: Do you feel like you want to fully dedicate yourself to judo? Even after you finish your active career?
DM: I think to some extent I will always stay in judo. I would like to make judo more popular in my country, in its regions, but I don't see myself as a coach right now.
JIC: What does judo mean to you?
DM: Of course judo is a way of life. This is what I am being inspired with. From judo I am getting enormous satisfaction and at the same time this a source I can earn for a living from.
Finally I would like to say - no matter what you do, just stick to your favorite activities and enjoy it. Just be happy!
Read more of the interview with Daria Mezetskaia by Irakli Khmelidze.