Edition No. 28. Autumn, 2001. Today is
TWOJ Interviews
John Buchanan

By: Barnaby Chesterman

After John's fantastic Bronze medal win at the World Championships TWOJ caught up with him for a few words:

How did you feel about finally winning a medal?
It was just an enormous feeling or sensation of relief. Whenever you go into a tournament, you always think you will do well but to get a medal is the realisation of a dream. It's something I have worked all my career for. It's also good for my coach, Mark (Earle) and training partners. We must be doing something right here.

Two years ago you came fifth in Birmingham, what made the difference for you to win a medal this time?
As far as the World Championship goes, this time I knew what to expect.

How did you feel after being beaten so comprehensively in the first round by the eventual champion, Anis Lounifi of Tunisia?

I was at the lowest of the low. I thought it was finished. All the work I had put in before hand meant nothing at that point. To suddenly get another chance spurs you on, though. I had my first fight at 9.15 and by 9.30 I thought it was all over. I didn't just get beaten - I got cricketscored. The same happened in the European Championships this year, but the guy who beat me then got disqualified against Ismaylov (Azerbaijan) for head-diving. So this time I didn't get my hopes up. When I went back into the repechage, it was like a second chance so I seized it with both hands.

You always seem to fight (Oscar) Penas of Spain in the big tournaments; you beat him in last year's European Championships and then he beat you at the Olympics. How did you feel about facing him again?
I had quite a long break before fighting him, so I watched a video of him back in the hotel. I had time to study what he does. He beat me at the Olympics because I didn't get into the fight until the last minute. This time I started like it was the last minute. Obviously when I beat him, it was a great relief.

You won the Bronze medal thanks to a brilliant transition from Tachi-waza into a Shime-waza on the ground. Is that something you work on a lot?
Transition is something we work on quite a lot. The way I see Judo, it's split into three disciplines, Tachi-waza, Ne-waza and transference. Ninety per cent of opportunities in Ne-waza come through transference. When I turned him over into a strangle, my forearms were pumped-up and I was just hoping he would tap. After that it was unbelievable.

It was a great tournament for your club, why do you think Camberley did so well in Munich?
I think 90% of it is down to Mark. He's a judo fanatic and thinks about Judo 24 hours per day. He studies other fighters in my weight category and then we go over tactics. It doesn't always work but 90% of the time he gets it right. He has different ideas and a way of transferring his thoughts onto the mat. Plus the facilities we have here (at Camberely) - it means I can always go on the mat whenever I want.

How do you think training at a full-time judo centre has affected your potential?
If it wasn't for the full-time set-up, I wouldn't have done half as much training. Most of the top countries train full-time. The Japanese are on the mat for three to four hours at a time. I think it's essential, to compete with the best countries in the world.

What future does judo hold for you now?
Obviously my main goal is to go to the Olympics in Athens 2004 and the World Championships the year before that. Long-term there's also the Europeans every year; it would be nice to get a European Championship medal and then there's the Commonwealth Games next year. I've done Judo for 15 years and I have been full-time for nine years but it's only now that I'm getting to where I want to be. So 2004 is my main goal and then I'll reevaluate after that.


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