Tina Trstenjak has won everything. At European Championships, World Championships and the Olympic Games she stood on the highest step of the podium. But the road to this goal was not always a walk in the park and it is not over yet. In social media we saw Tina more from another side and perhaps this is the new Tina, a woman who enjoys what she is doing, more aware who she is. JudoInside's Diana Suess got to know her a bit better.
Even though Trstenjak is already the most successful Slovenian judoka, but the possibility of bringing home a second Olympic medal is still driving her on. Straight to Tokyo 202One. Qualifying for the Tokyo Games thus had its pitfalls, especially at the beginning of the Olympic cycle. However, the Slovenian was able to pick herself up again quite quickly, even competition from her own country did not stop her from re-establishing herself in the top 3 of the world.
In a conversation with Diana Suess, the exceptional and humble judoka from Slovenia spoke about the beginning of her career, her way to Olympic gold, the challenges of the upcoming games and last year's World Championships.
Analyze, adapt, overcome
“In September 2010 I stopped doing Judo and started again in January 2011. The switch from juniors to seniors was hard for me because in juniors I made the podium at almost every competition and then I came to the seniors and I couldn’t win any match and I had lots of problems with cutting weight for the U57kg category. So, I just stopped doing Judo.
When I started again, I needed to change my fighting style because inn the U63kg category a lot of girls are taller than me. But one of my qualities is that I’m fast and with that I try to be better than others.
I do analyze my opponents but not too much. I don’t want to think about Judo all the time. I think I know my opponents very well because we do Training Camps together and also competitions. There are just small things that can change the match and you need to be clever and expect some things.”
It's all about fighting for it
“Last year’s World Championships were good until semifinal. I made a mistake and couldn’t fight for the bronze medal. That was frustrating and made me extremely sad, I needed a lot of time to let it go. A medal at the World Championships is always good no matter the color. Obviously, Gold is the best but even if it’s a bronze medal it’s top. I was happy about every medal I got but the last World Championships were different because I actually didn’t lose the fight for the third place and that’s why I was so upset.”
“I will try to reach more”
“After the semifinal of the Rio Olympics I was happy but, in that time, I didn’t understand that I was in the final of the Olympics Games. For me it was like a normal competition and I was very focused. I thought from fight to fight, I even remember how focused I was in the break before the final. I just thought about the upcoming fight and prepared – it was no big deal.
After winning I didn’t really realize that I just became Olympic Champion. For sure I was happy but, in that moment, I didn’t realize it.
Winning the European Championships, World Championships and the Olympic Games felt awesome – I can’t really describe it. I was the first Slovenian that achieved this and there are not a lot people in the world who are European, World and Olympic Champion at the same time. This achievement means a lot to me.
If I could tell 2016 Tina something before the Olympics, I’d tell her “I need to enjoy more!”. Everything happens so fast and I was so focused, I didn’t really have time to enjoy. Looking back, I think I could enjoy everything a bit more. My medal, the Olympics and everything.
After the Olympics I thought about my motivation and if I should continue. I was 25 years old I and I had reached everything. But then I decided I will give it a go once again and will try to reach more. So, I’m still here.
2020 Olympic Games in 2021
It’s hard to talk about the upcoming Olympics because everything is changed and it’s one year more. That’s a lot of time. I just want that I stay healthy, without any injuries. So, if it should stay like this everything can happen.
This Olympic cycle was totally different to the one before Rio. Before Rio I was alone in my category and had no pressure like I had in this cycle with Andreja Leski. But it was good because we both grew from it and having a good opponent in your country is always good.
I think the time before the Olympics will be again very hard for me. You can’t adapt. Also, it will be different because I’m older and I can’t train as hard as I used to do and maybe we need to use some different methods of training. So, for sure some things will be different in this Olympic cycle but still it will be hard for me.
Working with Marjan Fabjan can be hard but it’s good. For me he is the best coach, I’ve been at his club my whole life and he made all the Slovenian Olympic medalists from Judo. He has a good system, but he likes discipline.”