Rafaela Silva sees fierce World Cup and chooses strong rivals: ‘Duríssimas’ | judo

Rafaela Silva will arrive for the world judo championship, scheduled in the city of Doha, Qatar, from 7 to 14 of this month, with the status of number 1 in the lightweight ranking (up to 57 kg) and double champion of the world . The big phase – he won the gold medal at the Grand Slam in Antalya in April -, however, keeps his feet on the ground.

The women are Brazil’s biggest medal hope at the Judo World Cup, which starts this Sunday

In an exclusive interview with ageRafaela Silva plays down the leaderboard and says she doesn’t see herself as a favorite for the world title.

– I don’t put myself in this situation. It’s a high-level sport, everyone prepares as well as possible. The ranking does not guarantee me anything. I went to two Olympic Games… in one I was fourth in the standings, vice-world champion and I left without a medal. At the Rio Games, I was not the favourite, I was the last on the list. If I hadn’t had that last vacancy, I would have had to register by invitation because Brazil was the host country and I won the gold medal. Our physical and psychological preparation, what we do off camera, on a daily basis, our strategy on the mat, that’s what makes me one of the favourites. 100 entries can enter, but only four will make it to the podium. It’s a hotly contested competition. There is a little over a year left before the Games, everyone wants the points, the title. It will be fought. I will represent Brazil in the best possible way.

Rafaela Silva is Turkish champion — Photo: IJF

Rafaela Silva wins gold at Antalya Judo Grand Slam

Rafa says he is trying to study possible opponents and places Canadians Christa Deguchi and Jessica Klimkait, and Japan’s Haruka Funakubo, who form the top 4 in the standings, as strong rivals.

– I am the first in the standings, and these three are the main seeds. They did a very good cycle. Of all these, only the Japanese was not world champion in the category. I made the final with her last year. They are very tough. And it’s not just them, we can be surprised. We saw a Frenchwoman enter as a favorite and be surprised by an athlete from Turkmenistan. Some people don’t even know this country. It’s a World Cup, you have to open your eyes with all the athletes, but these three must be in the group. And, for sure, these will be very tough fights.

– I study as much as possible. You can’t have an HD in your head and study the 100. The main ones, the ones that give me the most difficulty, I’m still studying. At each fight, if I have to do five or six, I enter as if it were the final. If you don’t win the first one, you won’t make it to the others. It is my thought in each fight, to study my adversaries as well as possible so as not to be surprised in competition.

Rafaela Silva beats Funakubo to win gold at World Judo Championship

The study is important, after all, Deguchi, Klimkait and Funakubo have different characteristics on the mat. For each, the Brazilian has a strategy to use.

– They have totally different styles. Klimkait has a very fast pace, because I come from the lower category, so I have to do more physical strength. Deguchi, who fights for Canada but is Japanese, has a different style. I made the final with her in a competition and surprised her by kicking her on the opposite side. The Japanese, last year, on the six fights of the competition, won everyone in ne waza (on the ground). His preference is to fight on the ground. When a blow comes, I stand up, because I want to fight her standing up.

Rafaela Silva celebrates the gold medal with Andrea Berti, her coach — Photo: Emanuele Feliciantonio/IFJ

To help her in this mission, Rafa has surrounded herself with other women, such as Andréa Berti and Sarah Menezes, members of the women’s technical committee. The black belt praises the work of the duo and celebrates the inclusion of more women in modality coordination positions.

– It is very important for us to become stronger so that at the end of our career we can see that we can reach a position in the technical commission in Brazil. Sensei Sarah and Andréa do a very good job. Last year we had three World Cup finals. It will add even more because we have female affairs and intimacy. And having this confidence, this openness with the coaches, strengthens our team even more.

Laura Davis

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