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Austrian top athlete Kathrin Unterwurzacher retires from international judo. The 28-year two-time European Championships medalist and 2016 Olympian announced to quite her career as a sports soldier and competitive athlete. After 12 years in the Austrian national team she has to retire due to a damaged right knee. Unterwurzacher: “The pain is too severe. My right knee no longer allows top positions.”
Sports director Markus Moser had compiled a list of arguments for continuing his career and wanted to persuade Unterwurzacher to continue until the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021. But after just a few seconds and a few words, the matter was decided. “Your decision is 100 percent understandable. Kathrin tried everything. Now, without much melancholy, she puts an end to it. She had an exemplary career! We would like to thank Kathrin for 12 wonderful years!”
Kathrin Unterwurzacher wp two Grand Slams in her career as well as seven Grand Prix events. At home she won the Austrian Europea Open twice. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games should have been the final highlight but the one-year postponement puts a spanner in the works for the 28-year-old Tyrolean.
The corona lockdown gave time to think carefully and weigh. At the beginning of July, the decision was made: “The pain during training is too much. I could have gone on for a few more weeks, but not 12 months. The right knee no longer allows top positions after a cruciate ligament tear and two tears. Just being there at the Olympics is not enough for me. If I don’t have a chance to win a medal, I’d rather let Magda (Krssakova) take the lead.”
“Kathrin was not only my training partner, we are also best friends. We pushed each other for years. Without them I would not be where I am today. She has a big part in my success, ”says Bernadette Graf.
TJV President & Unterwurzacher coach Martin Scherwitzl can understand the decision: “We hoped that Kathrin’s right knee could recover to a good extent during the COVID 19 forced break. Unfortunately, this calculation did not work out. In the end, the pain was properly looked at. We will find a new role for Kathrin in the club, we won’t just let go someone like her!”
Judo Austria President Martin Poiger also takes off his hat in front of the 28-year-old Tyrolean: “Kathrin was an absolute exceptional athlete. Her professional attitude and the way she pushed herself to the limit every day was exemplary. Kathrin wrote Austrian judo history with the 2016 Grand Slam in Tokyo and the European Championship medals. ”
Unterwurzacher: “One cruciate ligament tear and two tears were ultimately too much. The pain has not decreased. Even the stability didn’t improve after four months – then it was clear to me: You can’t go on like this for another year until Tokyo 2021. It would make no sense. You are not competitive with a broken knee.”
the most beautiful 3 career moments
“The most beautiful was certainly the Grand Slam victory in Tokyo, in the Mecca of Judo. On December 2, 2016, I eliminated two Japanese women on the way to victory. If, as a foreigner, 14,000 Japanese celebrate your success with a standing ovation, you are simply blown away. I will never forget these pictures. The two European Championship medals were almost as beautiful – silver 2016 in Kazan, Russia and bronze 2017 in Warsaw, just six months after my pulmonary embolism.”
“My professional future is still in the stars. It will certainly not work without judo. I don’t want to rule out a coaching career. “I was known for my willingness to take risks and for always pushing myself to the limit!”
Martin Scherwitzl: The successful duo Graf / Unterwurzacher: “For me, the two were always a team. We went through ups and downs together. There was deliberately no special treatment. That welded us together.”
Friend and teammate Graf
Long-time training partner Bernadette Graf reacts: “We have experienced a lot of ups and downs with each other in the past twelve years. We not only train together, we are also best friends off the mat. It is impossible for our contact to break off now. But of course I will miss it in training and also in competitions. I would have loved to experience the Olympic Games again with her – that would have been the plan. ”
Successor Magda Krssakova: “We get along extremely well, even though we compete in the same weight class. I am sorry that she has to end her career because of a knee injury. I would have wished her a nicer farewell.”