Developing your Judo #17

#17: Tbilisi 1975. 
Grey And Gloomy.
Back in 1975, our National Team went to a Soviet city called Tbilisi deep in the former USSR in the state of Georgia to compete in a tournament then known as the Russian Open.

At that time, it was a grey and gloomy city devoid of any kind of neon lights, or apparently of any humans at the airport. We eventually found our way to our hotel to get ready to take part in what was, and still is, one of the toughest competitions in the world. It attracts judoka from most of the European countries, particularly from what was known as the Eastern bloc, as well as the southeast Asian countries such as Japan and Korea.  We were the first North American team to ever compete there.  We hadn't had much experience fighting against the Europeans since Canada was just starting to send its judoka to multiple international tournaments other than the Worlds, Olympics and Pan Am Games.
While the rest of my teammates didn't perform as well as we had hoped, personally it turned out to be one of my best international results. I lost only one match to a Russian by a debatable decision, and ended up with a bronze medal.  It was the first medal ever won by a judoka from Pan America. In fact, other than a bronze and gold won by Jimmy Pedro and Jason Morrisof the USA 15 years later in 1990, no other judoka from the western hemisphere has won medals there.  Battling and controlling my nerves had routinely cost me matches in my career, but not at Tbilisi.  This time, it was different.  Why? Stay tuned...

By : Rainer Fischer (Canadian Olympian)


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