IJF: You are the current World Champion. What are the main challenges to become world champion again in 2018? Takato Naohisa (TN): It is my goal to repeat gold at the 2018 World Championships, but moreover, I am committed to win with a dominating performance.
IJF: Who will be your toughest competitor(s) and how do you prepare to face him/her/them? TN: I have many rivals around the World. If I were to choose one- it would be Smetov (KAZ). I do not do anything special to prepare for my opponents, because if I’m able to perform at my best, I am convinced that I can win. When it all comes down to it, it’s just a battle against myself.
IJF: Japanese athletes are among the top favorites competitors in all weight divisions. How do you cope with that extra pressure making you the man/woman to defeat? TN: I lost at the Olympics because I couldn’t cope with the pressure. It is also natural to feel additional pressure when you are on a win streak. On competition day I try to shut everything out, and simply focus on my will to win.
IJF: Which is your favourite value in judo and why? TN: Friendship. Without Judo I wouldn’t have made friends from all around the world.
IJF: What did you learn in judo? TN: Compassion and Empathy. Judo isn’t just about winning and losing- it teaches you to be a moral individual.