I am a person who is never quite happy, never satisfied with myself, even when winning, once there is a goal. I always wanted more from myself, to do things better, to deliver a better performance. When I put something in my mind, it’s difficult to convince me otherwise. I’m stubborn, very stubborn! Once I decide something, I will do everything for it. Really, for Rio I went over the limits of what is possible. That sounds exaggerated but it is not. My stubbornness and commitment to goals drove me through some really difficult moments.”Now I’m doing my best to be more tolerant and patient, with myself and others, but I think it is always important to have high standards and aim to do the right things in each situation.In Rio everything came together, it was really step by step. I wasn’t a particularly successful child, very average in all sports, neither bad nor good. I could run and swim and do judo but I never imagined I would win an Olympic gold medal and it was for sure not my goal. I just enjoyed my sporty life.”Tina Trstenjak of Slovenia won the Olympic title in Rio 2016 and took silver at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Trstenjak won the World title in 2015 in Astana and World bronze in 2014 and 2018. In 2017 she took silver in Budapest. She captured 7 European medals and three titles in 2016, 2017 and 2021 European Judo champion and won silver at the European Games in 2015 and six European medals. Trstenjak won the Grand Slams in Paris, Tokyo, Abu Dhabi, Budapest and Tel Aviv and collected 39 World Cup medals.“I think my character is the same, before and after that medal. I am the same person now as I always was before Rio de Janeiro. I have changed some small things now like being more open but I kept the same values.I like a routine and good planning. Something not going to plan is difficult for me. I’m very able to adapt in an instant but I hate it when I have my mind already set on the right plan. I’m very hard on myself too, I expect a lot from me. That has made me expect a lot from others and sometimes this has needed to be diluted.“My personality helped me because once I saw Urska win in London and I was there the whole way as her training partner, I was watching her winning and during the medal ceremony I thought, ‘Why can’t I be there in four years? I’m training now but will do more. I’m already doing the right things. I will do all that is possible.’It is impossible to say there wasn’t focus or that there was no drive. That had to be there and it had to be directed so what could have been the turning point?My coach, Fabi, has been a big part of that. He had a huge influence. I was with him more than my parents in the last ten years and there were a lot of unwritten rules that kept me on the right track. It was far from easy but it was a successful outcome. Someone with a different character from mine might not have withstood the needs of the years leading up to Rio 2016. My personality and the people around me all came together to achieve this result and I think that is always the way when looking at reasons for the biggest achievements.””I’m sure I was not easy to live with. I was in an apartment with my parents and I constantly wanted to make sure every detail was right from food to sleep to training; I have always been a perfectionist with regard to my goals.
IJF Olympic portrait: Tina Trstenjak