In Baku, back in November, she confirmed her new strategy to us. It was her first competition after Tokyo and she told us that -48kg is over. "I've always felt better at -52kg and that's what I'm going to do from now on."
Distria finished fifth, it was a first touchdown after Olympic glory. This is how the Kosovar took it: a first analysis without major importance. Then rest, the new year and Portugal.
“I have come to Grand Prix Portugal to earn points. I need to move up in the standings and to do it quickly.”
Explanation: She was the world ranking leader in the lightest category. Not now though and that’s normal; now she's in 38th place. That's why she wants to accumulate points from the beginning, so she won't take too long to be seeded and enjoy easier draws.
Distria is the only current Olympic champion to have travelled to Portugal. “I didn't want to wait. I needed to fight, see my form and win. I felt good from the beginning,” so good that she won gold without breaking a sweat!
Now that she is the champion, her silhouette shines even more. To begin with, she has debuted a new judogi with a lot of gold. It is impossible for her to go unnoticed. Now she is part of the cast of champions that others want to overthrow. She understands it because until not long ago she was one of the others.
“It has always motivated me to fight against the best. In fact, I've always done very well. For example, I was delighted to be able to measure my strength against the previous Olympic champion, the Argentine Paula Pareto and I have always beaten her.”
Because Distria is a pure product of the Kosovar school, tireless, hard-working, we already know that eliminating her from any competition will be extremely difficult. We also rub our hands because Distria picks up the baton from her compatriot and national glory, Majlinda Kelmendi, in a category dominated by Uta Abe and Amandine Buchard. The irruption of Distria will surely alter the order of things.
“For now I have a clear and short-term objective: the European Championships. After that, we'll see."
As she is already a champion and is only 26 years old, she will arrive at Paris 2024 in full maturity, with a consolidated style and her traditional mental strength. She knows it, we know it and so do the others. The hunt has begun.