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Vigo Athlete Laura Vazquez Triumphs at European Under-23 Judo Championships

Laura Vazquez (Vigo, 21 years old) last Friday obtained the victory in the European Under-23 Judo Championships in the -66 kilos category. A triumph that comes after making a restart this summer, when he finished assuming that he would not be able to compete in the Paris Games. “I was especially excited to win the European Championship because last year I won gold in the under-21 category and this is another category. It means continuing to move forward,” explains the Vigo Famu athlete, who combines the high level of her sport with her university studies in psychology.

How does victory feel?

The taste is very good. I am very happy and I am especially excited because, after winning the junior title in 2022, being able to win the under-23 category, which is one more category, makes me very happy. And the result means that we are doing things well and that I am still there, at a good level.

How did you feel?

I was quite nervous. It was a tournament that she had prepared a lot on a physical, technical and psychological level. She was nervous at the beginning and, after the first fight, it is true that I relaxed a little more. I went little by little, planning the strategy for each duel. I managed to go from less to more, being focused all day.

With several rounds passed by Ippon.

Except the first fight, which was slower and had a lot of tension. Quarter-finals and semi-finals were pretty quick. I won the three elimination rounds with ground immobilizations and, in the last one, thanks to a score, which I carried until the end of the fight. Overall I didn’t do much time, but I did well. In the quarterfinal and semifinal matches, more or less, if there was the option to immobilize, it could go in my favor. The opportunity arose early on and I took it.

The final was already more worked.

It so happens that you are in a European Championship and you are just fighting one of your greatest rivals at the Spanish level. There are a lot of nerves, but I think what made me perform at the highest level was downplaying the fact that she is a person I know and taking her as another rival. I didn’t think about her being my friend and focusing on judo.

It turns out that she is a friend.

When I saw that I was in the final, I was very happy. Although she also made me a little nervous because I beat her, but she also beat me sometimes. The medal could go to either of the two. We always meet at the Spanish Championships, but we do agree and, in addition, we also talk about judo. I was able to put that aside and focus more on the technical aspects, on what could help me win and I think that was key.

Was it your best tournament?

A European is always particularly excited, and the truth is that she was very motivated. I knew that the competition was going to be tough and I took it with great enthusiasm. Everyone likes to have a gold in the European Championship. Marcial Romero (coach) was very happy. We finished last season in a bittersweet way, but we started this campaign in September well with a silver in Prague and a gold in Malaga. And this one is even more exciting. Everything we had worked on in recent months was reflected.

How are you at a sporting level?

These last few months I have put more effort into the physical part and also the mental part. I am training well and I feel that I am confident on the tatami, more sure of myself. And that is reflected at the level of competing. In two weeks I already have the absolute Spanish Championship and it is the last in 2023. For the year I still have nothing certain.

Did you go to a psychologist?

Yes, yes, since I was 14 I have worked with Hugo, my psychologist. I finished last season not being at my best and we had to do a lot of hard work in the restart summer to get off to a good start. And I think that was one of the keys. The medal is always a reflection of what you prepare and work on before.

In the world and Olympic rankings she is third Spanish. With no Paris option, she sees it more in the long term.

I left the junior category with points in the world ranking and I was very excited because I saw the 2024 Games very close. The truth is that when I had to measure up, I was not at the level and I was left behind. That was also what made me feel down and have some very bad months. When I realized that the main goal was not going to be met, I fell a little. Now I did a job that is focused on the long term and in Los Angeles. Now I see it as a preparation phase, that my time is not now.

Has a weight been lifted off your shoulders?

You see that the difference is not that much with the elite, but you rush and want to do things ahead of time. And assimilating it is complicated. Until I accepted it and said to myself: “No, I’m not going to go to Paris,” I couldn’t take the step of putting things back on the table and recovering my objectives. Finally, I was able to step forward, take it in, and be calm with myself.

And advance in studies.

I’m in that process right now. I’m with psychology. I have been combining it with sport for a long time and I am going to continue like this because I don’t want to leave it behind. I still have a sub-23 year ahead of me.

2023-11-23 00:49:42
#difficult #accept #Paris #Games

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