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Friday, March 1, 2024

IJF Olympic portraits: Arsen Galstyan

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“You know, when I was fighting I didn’t specifically expect him to be the champion because I really wanted it and at the time I was focused on myself but once I knew him as a person afterwards, so well, I really believed it could have been him, he’s the right person for that title.There are so many hard things in judo. First there is the discipline, the need to pass the barrier of laziness. Maybe a lot of people find it difficult to pass this line consistently and for long enough; maybe that’s one place where my patience played a part. There is pain and there are injuries but I had a target and I had to keep going. All the time you have to spend training to get to that point, not seeing family and friends, it’s a big sacrifice that again requires patience and calmness. This is especially hard when you are young and it can look boring while your friends are having fun.I’m very happy to know, from them, from my parents and friends and near ones telling me, that I didn’t change after winning that medal. I am the same person. So perhaps it is the combination of my own patience, calmness and willingness to push through the barriers of laziness and pain, combined with early opportunities from my parents and also the very important factor of having a good team and the right atmosphere within it, that took me to that achievement.”I always want to improve and to be better at what I do. Eventually I guess I also wanted to become Olympic champion and I guess that by reaching that goal it is the proof that I improved! If I did that I must have become better.Nowadays Arsen Galstyan is coach of several top athletes appearing as Independing Individual Athletes at the World Championships. Galstyan is the Olympic Champion of 2012 in London U60kg. He was European Champion in 2009 and won the Junior World Championships in 2008 in Bangkok. The Russian athlete won a bronze medal at the World Championships in 2010 U60kg and over 15 World Cup medals. The IJF asked him about his experience being an Olympic Champion.”My parents supported me with all they had. There was of course a financial part and if sometimes they seemed to have no possibility with that side of things, they tried hard, worked hard and had to do a lot to find the right money for me to have the chance to continue. When I started at the age of 9, my parents were working in the market from early morning to the evening to create opportunities for their children, including me. Three judoka brothers are not cheap to sustain with clothes and food and all other necessities, even before we speak about the cost of judo.“In the beginning, during my youth, it was necessary to find a very good coach who can teach me and in my case this was Igor Ramanov. I was with him from the beginning to the end but of course I also had national coaches in addition.”I always loved sport. My father was an athlete and my brothers too. I was good in all sports like football and others and my father was a pro’ football player. I was able to play volleyball and all sorts. It was at 13 or 14 that I won the cadet championship of Russia and chose judo.””In terms of my character, the first point was that I needed to be calm and have patience. I think this is first because it’s a very hard sport and the path is very challenging. To get to the top is close to impossible; not many can have this patience.There have been a lot of great athletes who have won big medals but most couldn’t be Olympic champion. For example, Rishod Sobirov (UZB), such an amazing athlete, so strong. It was a surprise, for sure, for me to win. Sobirov was the strongest on the planet and I fought him a lot. I knew his judo and how he trained. I still don’t know how it happened that day for me to be first. My opinion is that maybe to be an Olympic champion, the planets or stars must align.”

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