IJF – Eurosport
IJF Gabriela Sabau / International Judo Federation
At the Grand Slam of Antalya in April Belgian’s lightweight Jorre Verstraeten defeated former European Champion Walide Khyar of France in the final that produced fireworks. Verstraeten took another IJF World Tour gold medal, but it was just what he needed. The next event will be the Grand Slam in Kazan and World Championships and Verstraeten can afford not to participate at the Europeans where he took bronze last time in Prague. The IJF asked him on a reaction on twelve key questions.
So I started doing judo at 6 years old, it’s quite a funny story actually, me and my brother wanted to do Hockey but it was full and the only thing available was judo. So we were obliged to do judo and we both fell in love with it immediately.
My favourite throw in Tachi-waza is Kata-guruma, since under 18 I modified it to my own version and it’s been working pretty good for me so far.
My favourite ne-waza technique is a triangle choke but with my arms., I’ve been modifying it a bit so that I can switch to other techniques after that and it’s still working pretty good, so that’s my favourite.
My hero is my dad, yeah we’ve got a great relationship, I’m big on family and we are a really tight family. So my dad and obviously my mum as well, they are both my biggest heroes.
My favourite other judoka to watch I think must be Sami Chouchi, he’s my teammate and really good friend. But his judo is so exciting that I am always on the edge of my seat and jumping when he does something crazy .
My best friend in judo is my training partner and room mate Kenneth Van Gansbeke we are away so much that I think I see him more than my family so we’ve got a really good relationship.
Sami, the crazy guy from the team, he calls me rocket, probably because I am quite active when I am fighting.
My hidden talent I think is drawing, when I was a kid I used to draw all the time. I remember I used to get tiny pieces of paper and I would draw anything on them. I think my parents still have a lot of my drawings in their closet.
My biggest rival is myself, the mental game in judo is so important, the biggest fight is within myself.
My favourite memory of the IJF world judo tour is I think my first gold medal in Tel aviv in 2019. Yeah it was a really emotional day and I will never forget that first medal and first time standing on the podium and hearing your anthem .
My advice to a young judoka is to have fun. Don’t forget to have fun because that’s the most important thing.
Judo is a really special sport, you have to use your whole body and your mind. For me judo is amazing, also because of the community and the values that it teaches us.