How we view what lies ahead has a big impact on how much we can achieve. Neil Adams, 9th Dan, double Olympic medalist, World Champion, IJF Supervisor has lived his sporting life always keeping this philosophy in mind. The self-fulfilling prophecy of success is prominent in his planning, as one of judo’s most successful international athletes of all time and in every role since.

Why is Neil’s perspective so important for today’s athletes? Maybe because he knew how to get there? Or because he won so many milestone medals? Not so much!

Neil believes he had a lot more to give and a greater potential than his record shows. Hard to believe? But when delving deeper into the five-time European Champion’s memories, there is a lot more to this idea than you might think.

Neil threw himself into training with an insatiable appetite to improve and to do more than any opponent could be doing. He said, “my coach would have to sit on me to stop me training! Of course, I trained through injury and through competition. We all did and on the whole that was a massive mistake.” He went on to describe how tired his body and mind were, often, leading into events on the world stage, but rest was never an option he allowed himself.

In 1983 Neil had knee surgery for cartilage issues, but was back in a kayak within two weeks, pushing himself to be ready for a European Championships only a few more short weeks down the line. He won that Europeans but still isn’t sure he approached it in the right way. When asked if he could reflect on that time and maybe accept that this training ethic is what set him apart and enabled him to achieve all those medals, his response was simple, “no, I could have achieved more...” Now, looking back, he knows that with better nutrition, an acceptance of rest and recovery as necessary parts of an elite programme, he could have been an even stronger judoka than he was.

Neil acknowledges he did lots right but so wants today’s young stars to take better care of themselves than our heroes of past decades did. Many of us grew up reading about the warrior hearts of Adams and his contemporaries but so few sports practitioners have talked about the value of planned recovery and also of planning for injury.

When asked if he had ever had that one injury he thought he might not recover from, that really knocked him psychologically, there was a long pause, a silence. Eventually I jumped back in, “you’re not that guy are you Neil?” And he sighed, “no, no that’s just not me. I’ve always planned for how I would recover, never if I would. That personal belief is vital.”

Now, two weeks post-op having had a knee replaced, Neil speaks with urgency of his preparation for injury and surgery and recovery. “With every operation that I have ever had I have always followed a strict training regime in order to prepare myself with cardiovascular training and work on the muscle groups surrounding the specific area that is to be operated on. This then enables me to pick up quicker on the recovery and rehabilitation. You have to plan for it, you have to, to keep your fitness and strength up so you can recover efficiently”

He plans to be back on the judo mat demonstrating at seminars in the coming weeks. “Do whatever you can to keep fit prior to surgery. It pays dividends. I’ve been using a Versaclimber and rowing machine with my 3 good limbs (he laughs) straight out of hospital and I can manage it because I was so fit before the surgery. I planned for it!”

Planning, rest and belief are the resources all judoka must have in their kit bags. Injuries happen, but detailed preparation and an unbeatable spirit win out in the end.

Neil returned to duty at the IJF World Judo Tour event in Paris over the weekend where he resumed his IJF Referee Supervisor role.

By Jo Crowley

See also
Japan picks 28-strong team of champions for Baku Grand Slam

24. Apr. 2019 / Japan have unveiled one of their strongest teams in ...

Meet Fledgling Coach Sasaki Kotaro
Born in Japan, shaped in Poland

23. Apr. 2019 / Tokai University graduate Sasaki Kotaro, 24, a native ...

IJF President meets Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi، the Crown Prince of Fujairah

23. Apr. 2019 / IJF President Mr. Marius L.

World Judo Day 2019
Italy Makes the Difference

20. Apr. 2019 / The Friuli Venezia Giulia regional committee in collaboration ...

Tickets on sale for 2019 World Judo Championships

16. Apr. 2019 / Tickets are now on sale for the 2019 World Judo Championships, ...

A First for Macedonia: Inaugural National Championship for Veterans

17. Apr. 2019 / The Judo Federation of Macedonia was founded in the ...

Judo for Peace
Kilis: The Sun is Starting to Shine Again

15. Apr. 2019 / 65.6 million: this is the number of refugees in the ...

Denis Weisser takes the reigns
IJF Veteran’s Commission under new leadership

15. Apr. 2019 / The IJF Veteran Commission has a new leader at the ...

2019 First Quarter Review

13. Apr. 2019 / As the IJF World Judo Tour takes a break in April and ...

TOP 5 IPPONS - Antalya Grand Prix 2019

11. Apr. 2019 / Watch the Top 5 Ippons from the Antalya Grand Prix ...

TOP 5 IPPONS - Tbilisi Grand Prix 2019

11. Apr. 2019 / Watch the Top 5 Ippons from the Tbilisi Grand Prix ...

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About… Nekoda Davis

11. Apr. 2019 / We all know about the world bronze medal from Budapest ...

Judo in Schools
Through Children, Judo Gains Popularity in Turkey

12. Apr. 2019 / Only a few years ago, most people in Turkey saw judo ...

Shishime Ai (JPN)

08. Jun. 2018 / The next reigning world champion to be invited to answer ...

5 Key Takeaways from judo’s first Tokyo 2020 qualifier

06. Jun. 2018 / Highlights from Hohhot Grand Prix 2018

Judo for the World in Iran

07. Jun. 2018 / In April 2018, the International Judo Federation and ...

JUDO: A Beneficial Cause

07. Jun. 2018 / 'Society should believe in sport as a beneficial cause ...