By: Barnaby Chesterman
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
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
How do you think training at a full-time judo centre has affected
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.