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Interviewing an Olympic champion is something special and always delivers thought-provoking words and ideas; it’s a unique kind of education. Following the stories of the first 35 Olympic champions in the series, winners from 1976 to 2021, we now share the words of Aaron Wolf, Olympic champion in Tokyo in 2021 in the -100 kg category.
Aaron Wolf. Olympic champion.

We introduced the statistics, the almost impossible feat and the question in our first article in the series, which can be found here:

A reminder of the question:

It could be said that to be in the company of an Olympic judo champion is to be presented with someone whom has reached an absolute pinnacle, a ceiling which cannot be surpassed; there is nowhere further to ascend in the world of sport. We often find Olympic champions speaking with freedom and certainty, unafraid to share an opinion, speaking of their lives and journeys with confidence. For many we feel there is peace, and that can be magnetic and inspiring.

So the question is, did they become Olympic champion because of that character or did they become that person having won the Olympic gold medal?

“Within me, nothing is different from before the medal to after it but everybody began to recognise me after the medal and so I would say that the people around me changed. I was noticed and watched in a different way. I was aware of how the people around me sometimes behaved differently.

-100 kg semi-final: Liparteliani (GEO) vs Wolf (JPN).

When the federation chose me to fight at the Tokyo Olympic Games I was thinking about it everyday and sometimes that cost me sleep but on fight day I was not nervous. Before that day, I was, but on the day itself, I was prepared.

The walk to the -100 kg Olympic final with national coach Keiji Suzuki, Olympic champion.

"My preparation was very good. I was training not to lose as well as training how to win. Then I was looking at opponents and how I could fight against each style. I did a lot of analysis work. Everyday I was checking my body was ok, engaging in correct recovery processes. I was looking at what I was good at and not good at and solving any weakness, everyday. It was necessary to solve everything, step by step, physical awareness, tactical awareness, awareness of opponents."

Wolf, focused and aware throughout.

"I think a lot in both training and competition because every opponent and every match is different and this means there is a constant need to assess my own judo and work to improve. Mental agility is as important as physical agility."

The Tokyo Olympic Games final: Wolf (JPN) vs Cho (KOR).

I didn’t like judo a lot when I was little but I hated to lose and so this was the motivation from very early on. I grew to like judo but the main thing was that I hated to lose. I would never want to finish my randori or competition by losing and so from childhood I’ve always thought about how I can win again.

Winning in Tokyo.

It was a very long step by step process to come to the goal of winning the Olympic Games, but above all else was that I was focused every time not to lose. I am still the same. I am always committed to reaching the highest goals.”

Aaron Wolf has been selected to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.