Ronda Rousey Interview -- Judo Champion

By Neil Ohlenkamp and Jerrod Wilson
for
JudoInfo.com and Hatashita International (official apparel sponsor for Ronda Rousey)

Ronda Rousey in 2004

Ronda Rousey recently returned from the Junior World Championships held October 12-15, 2006 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic where she won a bronze medal. She had won the gold medal at the 2004 Junior World Championships and was coming off a string of gold medals at senior events so expectations were high for her quest to be the best in the world. A 2004 US Olympian, 19 year old Ronda Rousey is striving for an Olympic medal at the Beijing Olympics. When JudoInfo.com caught up with her we asked about her progress in training, and her thoughts on the single loss at the Jr. Worlds. Ronda answered in her typically candid way demonstrating a self-examination of her performance that can only help her achieve higher goals in life as well as judo.

JI- What aspect of your judo felt the strongest at the Jr. Worlds?

RR- Definitely my matwork felt the best, I'm trying not to get too dependent on it though because once you get a reputation people get harder and harder to catch on the mat.

JI- What aspect will you be working on improving?

RR- My gripping and throws always need work, and also keeping from getting too stressed as a match progresses, especially if I'm behind.

JI- Did you learn anything from your experience at the Junior Worlds?

RR- Yeah, I learned it's not a tournament to lose your temper for the first time after a loss. I also learned I prefer 5 minute matches to 4 minutes. And that if I'm only behind by a shido with 1:30 left its not a time to try risky throws.

JI- What do you think of the score in the only match you lost to Cuba's Aldama Cortes when you attempted a counter but she received an ippon? Did you make a mistake in going to the ground, or did the referee make a mistake?

RR- I think it was both. It was my mistake to try a throw where the decision would be up to the referee, especially when I had so much time left. No, I do not believe the Cuban girl had any control of the throw, I did put myself on my back to try throwing her with sumigaeshi. But I guess referees can't feel the throw, and what might seem obvious to me, they are limited in how to judge a throw since they can only see and judge it from one angle.

JI- Barnaby Chesterman, writing for ippon.org, described your reaction to your only loss as "petulant" and an unjustified "tantrum" when you refused a civil handshake and stormed off the mat to throw your jacket on the floor. Can you explain your initial reaction to this rare loss?

RR- Yeah, well I am really embarrassed with how I acted. If you ask anyone who knows me, they'll tell you I'm not an angry person at all. Most people have never even seen me get angry once in years of knowing me. But I can honestly say that was the most livid I have ever been and I don't remember half the things I said or did after the match.

But I don't know, I believed and wanted so hard to win this tournament that when I lost in the semi final it was hard to deal with. If I got thrown for a clean ippon and it was a clear victory for the other girl I would have been only mad at myself and accepted the loss easily.

But what seemed so obvious to me as an unjustified score really got to me. Another thing that really angered me was I knew the other girl could feel it wasn't her throw and she was jumping around and celebrating anyway. If the situation was switched and I was given an ippon I didn't earn, I wouldn't celebrate it and rub it in the other person's face.

I can't change how I acted, though I am sorry and have accepted responsibility for it. But I have to say I've seen dozens of other people react much worse to losses than I did, and I don't see people writing mean articles about them.

JI- Can you tell us what a typical training day is like heading into an international tournament such as the Junior Worlds?

RR- Well this is what I've been doing the last couple weeks on cardio days (I alternate cardio and weight lifting days). I wake up, eat breakfast (usually oatmeal), pack my stuff for the gym. Then walk to the metro station and take the bus to my gym.

I get bored easy during cardio workouts so I'll usually jump around machines a lot the first 15 minutes on an elliptical, 5 min rower, 10 minutes elliptical, 10 minutes bike, 10 minutes elliptical. Then 100 sit ups and 20 minutes in the sauna. (I can't just go for a run outside anymore cause its too hard on the knees.) Then I go to Subway and eat lunch, take the bus home, rest for a bit, do some school work, call my boyfriend, and then take the metro to judo at shidokan. Then its about a two hour practice and I take the metro home and go to bed.

JI- What is the next international tournament we can expect to see you compete in?

RR- I'm fighting in Sweden this weekend. If I win its 1000 euros prize, so I'm hoping to win so I can afford flying home to Los Angeles for the holidays.

JI- At this point, how do you feel about your progress towards Beijing (location of the 2008 Summer Olympics)?

RR- I think I still have a lot more work to do and need to find a permanent location and coach before I can start making the real progress needed for me to have a better chance at a gold medal.

JI- What is the best part of competing at the international level?

RR- I love winning and love traveling. I can never get enough of either.

JI- What is the worst?

RR- I hate losing, and hate missing watching my little sister growing up at home.

JI- Any words of wisdom for all the young judoka out there that want to compete at the international level one day?

RR- Train hard! Winning the junior nationals is fun, but its almost always the kid who works the hardest that comes out on top by the time you get to the senior level.

And don't forget to never lose sight of your dream, once you start getting a taste of success countless distractions start popping up. Whenever faced with a tough decision, just look at your options as "which one will take me closer to my goal?" and choose carefully.

Ronda Rousey in 2006

Recent Competitive Results for Ronda Rousey

2006

  • Gold – Swedish Open
  • Gold – US Open
  • Bronze – Junior World Championships
  • Gold – Rendez-Vous Canada
  • Gold – USA Judo Senior National Championships
  • Gold – Birmingham World Cup
  • Gold – Belgian Ladies Open
  • Gold – Junior Pan American Championships
  • Silver – Pan American Championships

2005

  • Gold – U.S. Open
  • Gold – Rendez Vous Canada
  • Gold – USA Judo Senior National Championships
  • Gold – Pan American Championships
  • Fifth Place – Austrian Open
  • Ninth – German Open

2004

  • Gold – Ontario Open
  • Gold – Junior World Championships
  • Gold – Pan American Championships
  • Gold – Junior Pan American Championships
  • Gold – USA Judo Senior National Championships
  • Gold – Titan Games
  • Bronze – U.S. Open
  • Bronze – Rendez Vous Canada
  • Ninth – Olympic Games

2003

  • Gold – Fall Classic National Championships
  • Gold – Rendez Vous Canada
  • Silver – U.S. Open
  • Fifth – Korean Open

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