Team rivalry in judo, in the rank of European championships, will be one of the most interesting parts of the Third European Games Krakow – Malopolska 2023. One of the stars of this discipline in our country is Katarzyna Sobierajska, who, after great success in the junior women’s category, is beginning to break through to the world’s top in seniors. She is one of the hopes that after almost 30 years we will live to see an Olympic medal in judo again.
Behind you is a very busy time, with several foreign groupings. Now the Warsaw European Open?
Unfortunately, I will not compete in Warsaw, because along the way in my preparations I suffered an injury. It is nothing serious, but I have to let go of the competition in the capital. It’s a moment’s break for my knee to recover, and then I will continue to fight. My next start is planned in Tunisia.
This makes it difficult to prepare for the most important event of the year, the World Championships in Qatar?
It complicated things a bit, but also nothing by force. It was impossible to predict this injury, but that’s the way sport is. You always have to take into account that something can happen. My start at this event is not yet certain, everything will turn out soon.
You have had a lot of success and medals in the junior women’s category. Has the time come for success in senior women?
I’m looking forward to that medal! At the very beginning of my senior career, I managed to win a medal at the GP in Zagreb, but I am waiting for more. I’m trying to go in small steps, though. However, this is a different judo than in juniors. It requires a lot of changes, and the girls who fight in the seniors are at a much higher level and have a lot of experience. I’m just gaining it, this is my first year in this age category. However, I am convinced that if I continue to train as I have so far, this success must come. So I am patiently waiting.
Medals in the junior categories have made you labelled a great talent. Do you feel the pressure associated with that?
At the moment I don’t, although earlier I felt a little pressure related to the fact that since I was a good player in juniors, I must also be successful in seniors. Now, however, I am focusing on myself, on my development. I know that I train very hard and I am aware that medals are within reach. For the time being, it is not for me, maybe I need to gain more experience. However, I don’t have the feeling that I already have to do something, to achieve something. It will simply come someday, if I train as I have so far. For now, I’m just happy to be in this group, to go out and compete at international competitions. All this gives me opportunities to fight with the best, and this will definitely pay off.
The second most important event this year will be the European Team Championships, which will be held during the European Games Krakow – Malopolska 2023. Starting at home has a mobilizing effect?
I really like to compete in Poland, in front of my fans, and this is an additional motivation for me. My family will be able to see me, which is a very big plus. For us it’s a cool thing in general. We don’t feel pressure, we will be at home, we will get the support of the fans. All this motivates tremendously.
Can you describe exactly what the team competition is like?
We have six weight categories, three each for men (73 kg, 90 kg and +90 kg) and women (57 kg, 70 kg, +70 kg). At the beginning, a draw is made as to which weight starts. Each member of the team goes out to fight for points for the team, unless the result is already decided and the team in question has a three “eyes” advantage. The result of one fight can determine the final outcome of the entire duel. There is a lot of excitement associated with the team event. The entire team sits next to the mat, supporting their colleagues. Everyone really wants to win for his team, which sometimes causes stress, because small points can be decisive, but also gives additional motivation. We play individual sports, and in this case we have the opportunity to do something for the team, so it’s a slightly different kind of competition. It’s exciting and very integrative.
And what chances has our national team?
Everything will depend on the cast, on what kind of squads other countries will show up in. However, we have a strong team, we present ourselves well at the competition, and I think we have a good chance to fight for a good place. Besides, the championship is at our home, so we will want to present ourselves at our best.
You combine playing sports with studying. Are you a good student?
I think so, although it’s obvious that with all these trips I don’t have much time to study. So far, however, everything passes, I’m doing well. I can say that I’m trying to be a good student.
Is there time for anything else besides sports and studies?
I am also a soldier, and between starts and university I show up at my unit, so there is no time for any additional hobbies. On the other hand, I like sports very much, judo gives me a lot of pleasure, so I don’t need any additional activities.
At the beginning you mentioned that you are looking forward to a medal in the senior category. Poland has been waiting for an Olympic medal in judo since 1996. Will we live to see it next year in Paris thanks to you?
I would like it very much! I will certainly do everything to get it. First, of course, I have to get the qualification, which, of course, is not easy. I still have a long way to go, a few difficult months ahead of me, but I am of good mind. It would be great if I would be the one to win this awaited medal. This is my dream.