Just a few weeks ago, Tina Trstenjak (SLO) took the plunge, putting an end to her international career and starting a new life on the other side of the fence, now as a refereeing supervisor. The world and Olympic champion explained to us that after having learned a lot from judo, she was ready to give back everything she could to our sport. As World Women's Day approaches (8th March), she gives us her vision of sport and judo in particular, she who has succeeded in everything sportingly.

"I'm really happy to see more and more women practising judo, at all levels. Of course, I was a top competitor, but it's not just competition available in life, we can practise in many different ways and today you can see women in all areas of sport.

It's really nice to see that even in countries where culturally access to women's sport is more complicated, women's practice is developing, skills development is improving and we see more and more female competitors representing these countries.

The level of women's judo has increased a lot and frankly, I don't really see any difference between men and women anymore. Let me explain, there are differences of course and there always will be, that's why there are specific categories, but although the judo practised is not the same, it is paradoxically the same. In both cases, it is about judo and each is as interesting to follow as the other.

Tina and Armen Bagdasarov, Head Referee Director

When I was a child, I didn't know about judo, I didn't even know what it was, I had never seen it on TV, but my grandparents lived near the local judo club. Every time we passed by, I wondered why there were so many cars parked. I asked a first time, then a second and a third, to be able to join judo, I repeat, without knowing what it was, but just out of curiosity. My parents didn't want to. I insisted.

They finally agreed, but on one condition: if I started, I couldn't stop for at least a year. I had already done other sports like dancing or swimming, but judo was totally new for me and for my family. After my Olympic title in Rio, my mum said to me, 'You know, if you had wanted to stop, we would have let you.’ I haven't stopped and I'm very happy about it.

All this is to say that at that time judo was not very popular in Slovenia and even less among women. It was from Urška Žolnir's Olympic title in London in 2012 that things started to change. Before, nobody really understood what judo was. This is why I just wanted to go and see and then I saw it and I loved it.

What I want to say today is that it is important for children to try and see what they can learn by starting judo. I do not distinguish between girls and boys. You don't have to do that. In judo precisely we learn not to discriminate and we learn skills for life. That's what judo taught me and I'm very proud and very happy about it."

With these words, Tina returned to her new missions, supervising the refereeing of the Tashkent Grand Slam 2023. Finally it is not a new life for the great champion that she is, but a new page, new discoveries and a new adventure within the story of her life.

See also