Sayaka shares her thoughts about the 2001 Junior World Games in Tunisia
The Junior Worlds was undoubtedly one of the best experiences I have had in my life.
I am only 18 years old, yet I’ve had the opportunity to travel to countries all around the world.
But despite going to places like Sweden, Italy, Sydney and Germany, my experience in Tunisia, Africa
ranks perhaps number one on my list. If I could capture my junior world experience into one moment,
it would be the instant I realized that I had won my semi-final match. It is weird, because even
now, I can’t describe to you in words how I felt. All I know is that I would do all the drills,
all the speed uchikomi, and all the rounds of randori all over again, to have that one feeling.
Winning a medal at the junior worlds was great, but I often tend to forget about everyone who
helped me in getting there. There were so many people who supported me unconditionally throughout
my training. First, I’d like to thank my dojo. I have trained in many different dojos all around
the world, but not one comes close to how much I like ours. We are like a family and throughout
my training, not only for the junior worlds but other tournaments as well, they have been there
for me. Secondly, I’d like to thank all my friends, particularly Stephanie and Marija for being
two of my closest friends and who are always encouraging me to do my best. Last, but not least,
I would like to thank my family, especially my dad. I truly believe that I would not have been
able to achieve my goal if it wasn’t for him. He was always there for me. He was there when I
needed extra encouragement to work harder at practice. He was there to get up at 6 in the morning
to go to the gym with me. And he was there when I stepped onto the podium in Tunisia to receive
my medal. As you can see, my medal does not just belong to me, but belongs to everyone who helped
me in accomplishing my goal.
Judo has taught me to work harder and aim higher than I ever have. I encourage everyone
here to work their hardest to achieve their dreams but at the same time, be appreciative of all the people that
have helped you along the way. In the end, you will be able to step onto the mat with confidence knowing that
you trained harder than any of your opponents and that everyone who supported you is right there by your side,
cheering for your success.