With the Tokyo 2020 Games fast approaching, all eyes are already on the Japanese capital and judo fans are eagerly awaiting the beginning of the Olympic tournament to see who the new champions will be.

After a busy career, he is precisely an Olympic champion. Beslan Mudranov, who returned from Rio with the supreme crown and who on the eve of the Tokyo Olympics bows out, offered us the opportunity to ask a few questions.

IJF: How important was it for you to win gold at the Olympics? How has this medal changed your life?

Beslan Mudranov: Of course, to win the Olympic title is the dream of every judoka and it was my biggest dream as an athlete. All Olympic champions are very much appreciated in Russia and especially in judo, they are seen everywhere. To win this title is recognised as one of the best achievements in sports. We don't have that many Olympic champions in judo in Russia but after this day, of course, I can say that it changed my life for ever. Today I am very well known in my country and my popularity grew a lot. 

IJF: Your last competitions were at -66kg; what made you change category after Rio?

Beslan: Yes, I had so much pleasure fighting at -60kg and I won almost everything that I wanted to win in this category but to end my career I went up to -66kg. It was hard for me to lose weight for the lower weight division because I was already weighing 68kg and to lose 8kg was really a lot and no longer possible. So I decided to go up and try my judo with the -66kg group. This was another struggle. I needed to prepare myself differently and adapt to this new category, of course. It was hard there in general, with new rivals and a different style but during my last competitions I felt comfortable, better and better. 

For example, during my last IJF World Judo Tour event in Antalya, I was feeling good. Let's say that I was a little unlucky, I fought for 12 minutes, but in the end I lost by the judge's decision to give a last shido. I would have preferred to lose by a throw! I did not get tired physically and did not feel inferior in any way. I have always trained to win gold in all competitions. This was always the way I competed each time I stepped on the tatami. 

IJF: It was time for you to stop? 

Beslan: I am 34 years old and in a couple of months I'll turn 35, so I am not such a young athlete anymore. In any case, after the Olympic Games in Tokyo, I would have stopped my sports career. 

IJF: Would you do it all again?

Beslan: Looking back, I would try it again, based on what I know now and what I went through; knowing that I overcame all the challenges. I would still decide to go anyway, because I have 22 years of judo training, giving years to this sport and I love this sport! Of course I would like to start over again, probably changing a lot of things too. I would like to change some of my fights too but unfortunately it is impossible to go back. I am happy and proud of my achievements as an athlete and now it is time for my next life to begin. Now I start to write a new chapter. 

Rio 2016

IJF: We will see Beslan Mudranov as a coach?

Beslan: I do not know yet what I will do because I have been an athlete until today. I think I can work as a coach because I like coaching. In general judo gave me so much and now could be my time to give back to judo what I know but I don’t know yet. I want to be connected to sports and then we will see whether I will be a coach or I will go somewhere else.

IJF: Any advice from an Olympic Champion? 

Beslan: I always say to both children and adults who are already engaged professionally, that there are no secrets to becoming a champion, you just need to train, work hard, be clever and work, work, work. The most important thing is that children can set goals for themselves and they can keep going despite any defeats that might impact this goal. All athletes in the world lose and everyone can win. All have won something to reach the worlds or the Olympic Games but remember that defeat always helps to set new goals and face new challenges. It helps you to work and make you a better player. Then you can achieve victory. The main thing is that they must believe in themselves and train 100%.

Rio 2016

IJF: Judo is your life? And will be part of your life forever? 

Beslan: Yes, sure. I did judo all my life; I love this sport so much. From a young age I have been doing judo and everything that I have until today came thanks to judo. My life has changed but my friends remain in judo. I was with my teammates and friends and together we went to competitions and training camps, travelling the world. Let's say that I have many friends everywhere in the world thanks to judo, so, I have said it before but judo is part of me. Thanks for this to the Russian Federation, the IJF, all the staff, teammates, coaches. We are a big judo family.

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