By: Bob Willingham
TWOJ spoke with
Indrek Pertelson after his win at the Sardinian Tournament in June
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 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
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.
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
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
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
FOR FURTHER DETAILS OF FUTURE ESTONIAN OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
Public Relation Manager
Estonian Judo Association