Richard Trautmann: "2 gold medals are great results, but work continues" - INTERVIEW

27 May 2024 14:55
Richard Trautmann: "2 gold medals are great results, but work continues" - INTERVIEW interview of the head coach of the Azerbaijan national judo team, Richard Trautmann

- Two gold medals from the World Championship could only be dreamed of before. It has already become a reality. It almost all came together in Abu Dhabi?

- We were able to create a strong team. Of course, Hidayat Heydarov and Zelym Kotsoiev are athletes with not only great potential, but also rich experience. But we have other judokas who are capable of fighting for medals. When I first started working in Azerbaijan, it was a period of generational change. At that time, there were strong but old athletes who had motivation problems. In addition, they were not ready to accept new training preparation ideas. At that time, there was an influx of teenagers who accepted the coach's instructions to the national team and it was a bit easier to work with them. Of course, everything takes time. We progressed step by step and were able to make important changes. But it's still a work in progress. For example, kumi-kata (grabbing technique) has made great progress, but ne-waza (ground fighting) remains a major challenge.

- After Heydarov's victory, you mentioned that he fulfilled his dream, but victory was the dream of everyone in the team...

- That is right. Every country dreams of a title, wants to go down in history and win victories. When I arrived, I saw that although Hidayat was distinguished by his high fighting spirit, good technique, and good physical characteristics, his choice of tactics was limited. We began to pay special attention to this, and now Heydarov has become a judoka capable of applying various strategies both throughout the championship and in one fight. Because when you face direct competitors, only technical and physical preparation is not enough. We have come a long way, but this is just the beginning. Hidayat has a fighting instinct and can grow stronger.

- Now let's outline the champion portrait of Zelym Kotsoiev. What does a world champion do?

- Zelym is open to and accepts everything the coaches ask of him. In this sense, he is easy to work with. Because he knows what he wants. He understands how to set up tactics that allow him to stay ahead of his opponents and anticipate their moves. Of course, he is still young, mistakes cannot be avoided. But like Hidayat, Kotsoiev also has great potential.

- Hidayat and Zelym will now be in a great mood as they prepare for the Paris-2024 Summer Olympic Games. But what about the other categories? After all, do we have to decide on the composition of the team that will go to Paris?

- In the coming days, we should think about everything seriously, take our notebooks, analyze and discuss the results. Any decision will not be easy. Because someone will be left out of the Olympic list. This is one of the most unpleasant moments of coaching. After all, some judoka will be disappointed. However, we have to see who has the best chance of a medal in Paris. In the world, there are three to five contenders for victory in each category. Most likely, one of them will win the title. For example, at 73 kg, they are Hidayat, Soichi Hashimoto and Manuel Lombardo. The situation is the same in Kotsoiev. We have judokas with good potential in other weights. They are not the favorites for the title, but they can challenge for the medals. Let's take Turan Bayramov (60 kg). Although he is not always successful, he is a very disciplined athlete. He was close to being promoted to the podium in Abu Dhabi. If he passed Giorgi Sardalashvili, he would have a medal chance. Or let's take Eljan Hajiyev (81 kg). He is an athlete capable of winning medals. But not winning a medal this time should not be a tragedy for him. Because he has become one of the favorites in his weight within two years. We have to go step by step. Remember the World Cup two years ago. Then the team won two bronze medals in Tashkent. Zelim could even win gold, or at least reach the finals. Everyone was very angry. In the next World Cup held in Doha, three of our leading athletes lost because their heads hit the mat. That is, there are a number of points. This is not a 100-meter race where you start and run. Our sport has contact. Now we have returned from Abu Dhabi with two gold awards. This is a great achievement for Azerbaijan. In the last 20-30 years, very few countries can boast of winning two gold medals in the world championship. Japan, France, South Korea, Georgia can be named. Of course, to approach the results of these countries in judo, it is necessary to train more than one year, or even a generation of judoka. But with the right approach, this noticeable result can be achieved.

- How will preparations for the Olympics be organized after the World Championship?

- Athletes showed a lot of effort and emotion in Abu Dhabi. Some worry about missed opportunities. That's why we need to restore the tone of the athletes at the training camp in Guba, which we went to yesterday. We will do a light exercise for this. The team will come together again and it is necessary to create a positive atmosphere. After resuming preparation, we will continue training in earnest. We will also analyze the path we have taken and what we can do better. Then we will go to Poreč. A big training camp will be held in Croatia. Many athletes will come there. It will be possible to hold international sparring meetings. Later we will return to Baku. Then judokas will be able to improve their health. After that, the team will have another training camp. This time we will prepare in Benidorm, Spain. Many athletes and teams will meet there. After returning to Baku, we plan to fly to Paris on July 23.

- It is clear that judokas are expected to perform successfully in the Olympics. What is the plan for Paris?

- Of course, the first task is to win a medal. We expect to win three prizes. There will be a gold - great. If we manage to win two top prizes - just great. I know the expectations are high. But at the same time I am realistic. We can fight for honor in every weight class. In addition, another task is that our judokas wrestle well. You can lose, but you have to show a high fighting spirit.

- At the beginning of our conversation, you touched on the work to be done for the future of Azerbaijani judo. Can it be said that the team is fully formed in a broad sense?

- We employ many specialists. In recent years, young people and teenagers have achieved good results in the international arena. But the educational process is also important and should be given special attention. In addition, another important goal is to form a squad for the 2028 Olympics, including the mixed team tournament. It is clear that for this we need heavy weight athletes, including women. If they are, you can join the fight for medals in the team competition.

Zaki Feyzullayev