Edition No. 25. Winter, 2000. Today is

By: Bob Willingham

TWOJ spoke with Indrek Pertelson after his win at the Sardinian Tournament in June 2000.

Indrek PertelsonHow do you feel after winning the Sardinian Open?

Good. I have taken part in this event many times now and this is my third win. The first was in 1989 with the Soviet Union team when I was in the under 95 kilos.

It would have been fantastic for an Estonian team of just three to have won the team competition, I mean Brazil must have had 20 people.

They had 21, but that was for three teams.

Against the Cuban, you tried your switch three times but only scored one Yuko.

One Yuko and one Koka. The Yuko was from a Sumi-gaeshi. It's not a secret weapon; more like a technique in my back pocket.

Are your plans on line for winning in Sydney?

Yes, I can say that this result has given me more confidence in my tactical fighting.
Before Sydney we will stay here for the camp and then we will have another long camp in Estonia before the Spanish International. We'll follow that with training in France, then Minsk in Belarus and then, two to three weeks before the start of The Games, we will leave for Australia. There are just two Estonian judo players who have qualified, me and Alexsei Budolin.

I want to congratulate Alexsei. In 1996 he won Bronze in the Estonian professional Beach Volley Championships and Estonia has a high standard in that sport, so he is very talented. Last year we both played in the Estonian third division Beach Volley Championship. Alexsei was the best player in our team and we finished mid-table.

How old were you when you started judo? And who has coached you?

I started judo when I was seven. Aavo Pohgala, who was originally the Soviet Union Junior Coach, has been the man I have spent most of my judo time with. He became my personal coach and I have trained with him for seventeen years.
Tell us something about Judo in Estonia.

Estonia covers around 45,000 square kilometres, a similar size to Ireland, and about 2,500 people practice Judo in the 25 to 27 clubs that exist there. We have nearly 100 adults who train every day. Our club in the Capital, Tallin, has special training days when many people from other clubs in Tallin come to gain extra experience.
On the Coaching side we don't yet have a strong, clear and structured system but we are creating a system. Our national coach also coaches the juniors and his older brother is national coach for youth, although sometimes it is the brother who travels with the juniors. Estonia is small and so we don't have as many people as Russia which can produce two or three players in each weight category. To make the best use of our national reserves of people we have to concentrate on those who can really prove themselves.
Our top level players do a wide variety of training: cycling, running - distance and sprints (sometimes before breakfast) - and stretching. In summer time it's not so regular. We also play football, basketball, and many ball games.

One good thing for Estonian athletes is that the parliament, I think it was 4 years ago, agreed that high level sportsmen and women will be paid by the government for their preparation and their daily meals. The government also has the freedom to reward medal winners if it wishes. They can choose to put a value on each medal.
For me personally this means reasonable security at the moment but this will not be the case when I stop judo. As I said this money is adequate for good preparation and training, but it's not enough for any additional expenses.

When did Estonia become independent from the USSR?

In 1991 (I think it was the 16th of August) fortunately it was almost entirely peaceful, only some tanks, but they didn't shoot. It was the only way and I am very happy it happened. In terms of judo it took time to really understand the difference between a big country system and a small country system. In Estonia you need to do a lot more for yourself. You need to find sponsors, you need to prepare by yourself. It's about self discipline but I think that's good. Of course in the Soviet Union the judo system was almost perfect (I was 4 times Soviet Union Champion, and Junior European Champion in 1990 and 1991 under their system). All those coaches and the depth of players, the preparation; it was all planned down to the smallest detail. Your obligation was only to fight and win, no more. There are many things that in Soviet Union times you waited to have done for you, but now as part of a small country you must get on and do them for yourself. In Estonia you are like other people, a normal person, if you want success you must work for it.

Tell us about the plans for the Estonian Open Championships in January 2001.

Some of our coaches were against it because many strong foreigners would come and take most of our medals. So we decided to have two competitions, one closed and one high level international Open tournament in which we would hope to see the highest level of judo We would gladly welcome all the strong teams to this tournament: the Japanese, France, England, Cuba, Korea, Germany all of them.

It is nice of you to mention England.

Yes, Randall, Somerville, Gordon: they are very strong players, so is Kingston…

OK, so who do you want to invite?

Russia, Ukraine, all these, but to organise this kind of tournament needs good management. It's hard, because in Estonia there are only a few people that can do this. And those who have the interest are involved in other things or other sports and just don't have the time. So that's the first problem for us, we must grow by small steps. Although geographically we are not in best place, we are not in a bad place. So many countries in Scandinavia and the old Soviet Union are not far away. I think it's the best place for the camp because a lot of Finnish, Latvians and Lithuanians want to come and train here. And of course it is much less expensive than in France, England or the Netherlands. The accommodation and the food are cheaper.

The most suitable stadiums for Judo seem to be Basketball stadiums, in terms of size. Is Basketball "big" in Estonia?

Yes it's the first sport in Estonia, but these stadiums are old. They have now started to build a new one and it will be ready in September 2001, but this judo tournament is already booked in a different arena.

So how are you personally preparing for life after judo?

I am studying law. I started in 1994 but I am already on a special programme. The last two years have taken so much energy, though, as last year I was thrilled to become a father for the first time to my boy, Marcus. He was 4.3 kilos at birth (in Estonia that's average) Sometimes when he was younger I would get up for the night time feed but last year this was difficult because I was very busy. If you love your child and your wife though, you accept this and it's not really so hard. You need to put your family before your study, but now he's older it's OK anyway.

What book are you reading?

The 14th Dalai Lama, in exile. In this book they clearly explain the system of re-incarnation and can prove he is the Dalai Lama. It's interesting, there are many similarities between Estonia and Tibet. They have a very old tradition but they are now part of China even though they have a different culture, language, people. Having been part of Russia we can empathise with these people so we understand them. In Tibet they are the purest followers of the Buddhist religion.

Are there any other countries you would especially like to visit?

In my opinion every country in the world has something to see, to taste, to watch and they all offer new experiences.

Thank you Indrek Pertleson for talking with us.

Since the Interview Indrek took the +100Kg Bronze medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympics


"Tavi Maastik"
Public Relation Manager
Estonian Judo Association
EMAIL: ejl@online.ee


Next Article »

« Back
Order Olympic Photos!

Subscribe Now!

Bob Willingham's latest judo photos are available here:

World Judo Championships
2003 Osaka, Japan


Other 2003 Events Include:

Asian Judo Championships
Oceania Judo Championships
South Pacific Games
Pan Am Judo Championships
European Judo Champs

We accept orders for all of Bob Willingham's photos.

$30 for a 30cm x 20cm action shot of your choice. Order your original prints today!

Koga, A New Wind -- Coming Soon!
Web Site developed and maintained by Sonic Boom Creative Media Inc. ©2005
All photographs copyright © Bob Willingham 2005 unless otherwise stated.

Editor and Photographer: Bob Willingham
Chief Reporters: Barnaby Chesterman and Simon Hicks
Regular Contributors: Daniel Graide, Adi Jones, Mark Law
Web Site Designer: Matt Carter www.sonicboom.com
Magazine Graphic Designer: Cole Design