From the Mat to the Ballroom: The Journey of Judo Athlete Lena Djeriou

A firm grip, a quick movement and Lena Djeriou’s training partner is lying on the mat. Ippon means instant victory in judo. During the technical training of the 1st JC Samurai Offenbach in the harbor school, winning is not important. The constant repetitions of different throwing techniques are part of the routine for the 19-year-old student from Frankfurt.

This Saturday evening, the athlete from the German Judo Association’s perspective squad will be on the mat in front of 1,600 ball guests. As part of the 53rd Sports Ball, organized by Deutsche Sporthilfe, Djeriou will present her sport in the festival hall. “First the children’s group performs, and then the slightly older athletes do another performance,” she says. For the U-21 European Championship bronze medalist, appearing in Europe’s largest charity gala for athletes, which raises a six-figure sum, is primarily an appreciation for her sport.

A survey by Deutsche Sporthilfe showed that only 36 percent of all athletes feel very or fairly valued by society. Last year there was a long struggle to support sport in the budget and a cut was averted after much discussion. “I only noticed it in passing,” says Djeriou, who is completing her high school diploma at the school this year. During this phase, she reduces the amount of training a little. Nevertheless, she trains every day, even on Sundays. Frankfurt’s Young Athlete of the Year 2023 is in the weight room. Everything for the big dream: being able to take part in the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 2028.

The school releases them for training camps

Lena Djeriou has been practicing Japanese martial arts since she was four years old. Two years ago she moved from TSG Nordwest Frankfurt to JC Samurai because there is a greater focus on competitive sports, the training partners are stronger and the harbor school has a permanently installed mat. At TSG, the mat had to be set up in a time-consuming manner before each training session. She gets the support she needs from school, her friends and family to take part in training trips and competitions.

Lena Djeriou trains with her partner Nour El Amraoui at the Offenbach harbor school. : Image: Ben Kilb

“I always got exemptions from school,” says Djeriou, who took mathematics and physics as core subjects. In each of the past two years she has been in Japan for three weeks. There she competed against numerous top-class opponents in training. She received the worksheets from school from friends via her smartphone and worked on them on her tablet after the units.

The travel, competition participation and materials are paid for by the Hessian Sports Foundation, the German Judo Association and Sporthilfe. “At Sporthilfe I have often met with the person responsible for career advice and received advice,” says Djeriou. After graduating from high school, she would like to study primary school teaching. She then wants to continue her sporting career at a base in Cologne or Stuttgart. “I have to see how the training partners and the conditions generally suit me,” says Djeriou.

Strict selection criteria in judo

Before that, there are still three or four European Cups for the world number six in their weight and age class in the next few weeks and months. “I have to win a medal, then I will be nominated for the European Championships and World Cup,” says Djeriou. The U-21 European Championships will take place in Estonia in September and the U-21 World Cup in Turkmenistan in October.

The selection criteria are particularly strict in judo. For World Championships and Olympic Games, each nation is only allowed to enter one athlete per weight class. Djeriou will have to train hard and be supported in order to be able to win medals for Germany. The show appearance on Saturday is a nice change – and an opportunity to prove to the supporters of the sport that their support makes sense.

2024-02-17 06:01:52
#judoka #plans #career


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