Mzia Beboshvili, 18, Tbilisi

„I had done gymnastics as my parents wished until I took up judo. I knew that there was some extracurricular sports class available at school and went to check it. It appeared to be a judo class. When I entered the class first, I liked the environment very much. I felt a desire to stand on a judo mat and take part in competitions. If I am not mistaken I was 11 then. As soon as I came home, I asked my parents for permission to take up judo instead of gymnastics. I was a rather restless child and I realized that gymnastics was not a suitable sport for me. Gymnastics is a challenging sport, but it is not strength-building, you are supposed to be rather graceful, but I was not like that. However, when I took part in a gymnastics competition I took the second place because I used to look at things differently and was good at all types of sports.

Judo had always been thought to be a guys’ sport, so my parents were not sure that the class was available for girls as well. At first they refused but after I asked them multiple times my father went and saw with his own eyes that there was a girls’ section and girls’ team in the Judo Federation. I have been a judo player for 7 years already.

I have been the Champion of Georgia for 9 times. In 2013, when I was 14, I took part in the European tournament and won the bronze medal. This was a historical medal for Georgia because we did not have a girl judo player who had won a medal in the European tournament before. I beat the European champion of the previous year using an ippon technique. I did not realize then what was going on in Georgia, I did not understand that this was a historical medal. I got it only after I came back and enjoyed people’s love and attention. You feel rather proud seeing the flag of your country being raised when you are from the small country many people have not even heard about.

Then in 2014, I became the champion of the European Cup. The year 2015 proved to be the best year for me because Georgia hosted the Olympic festival. Two weeks earlier, Bulgaria hosted the European championship, where I became the champion. I had the same result in Georgia. I became the champion and made my country proud once again.

I had felt a big responsibility because of the Olympics to be held in Georgia. It was a huge responsibility because I had won a golden medal two weeks before in a different country and had a chance to get the same result now in my country. All the people wrote to me through the social network, “You won the European Cup and will not find it difficult to win in your own country “. Of course, I felt happy but at the same time I was rather scared not to disappoint people.

I have a rather busy schedule during the day. I run in the morning, do exercises, then in the evening we have to exercise in the gym every day. On Saturdays I exercise on Turtle Lake. I learn many technical movements and have also a technique and speed training. I also work to ingrain good reflexes of using the techniques I have learnt during the day. Judo is about having a speed and sharp mind. Your opponent also knows different techniques but you have to find a moment for a suitable technique. Spectators see only throws and grappling but very often there is also mind grappling taking place between athletes.

One will not be able to do anything alone in this sport. We are a team and help each other during training. Other girls help me and are my training partners. There is a whole team behind one person, who is visible. A number of people work to help me attain goals and be successful. Some people may be negatively disposed towards a girl judo player but it does not matter what sports your child plays. What matters most is having a goal. If you are a baker – you must be a very good baker, if you are a cleaner – you must be a very good cleaner and if you are a judo player – you must be a great judo player, have a goal and work hard.

I even have a specific diet. It is very difficult for me to keep weight off because I like eating well. But if you want to succeed you have to forget everything. You cannot have success, food and sleep together. No way. No person can say that “I do all those things, I am happy, I have everything and I am successful“. It does not work like that. I will tell you directly, some petted girl or guy will never become a successful judo player. They already have everything they need and will not come here to reach success. I do not understand the point of having everything without having to do anything. The motivation of my life is my goal and working towards this goal. My life would be meaningless if I had everything and did not have any dreams.

I had a quite unsuccessful year in 2014. I was one of the leaders but did not get any results at a competition. But when I thought that I did that and this was the end, I realized that strength does not come from winning alone. If you do not know the value of losing, you will never understand the value of winning. You may fall ten times but you are strong if you stand up for the eleventh time! If you fall, you must stand up and keep moving forward; you are strong when you stand tall!

I started the year 2016 rather badly. I had meniscus surgery. This is an ordinary situation for every athlete. All of them go through this but it depends when this happens. I missed the whole year because of that. But it took me 5 months to recover when it usually takes 8-9 months. In 2017 there are European and world championships in my age groups. I hope that I will compete successfully and everything will run smoothly.

But all athletes dream about winning the Olympics. So I hope that I will take the license for the Olympiad of 2020.
Apart from being a judoist I have dreamt of learning to dance. I have finally managed to find the group that has lessons three days a week at 9 o’clock. I am learning hip-hop at the armature level. Even though I have a rather busy schedule, if you really want something, you fill find some energy for dance as well.“