JudoCrazy: Going into Rio 2016, were you convinced you'd be Olympic champion?
Majlinda Kelmendi: After I won the semi-final against Nakamura, I knew the gold medal was mine.
JC: You're the single most dominant player at -52kg. Do you still get nervous when competing?MK: It doesn’t matter how good you are, you always have some emotions when you get on the tatami. But I can manage them even if I don’t feel very good.
JC: Are you a very strategic player? Or do you just go into a match and do what comes naturally?
MK: When I get on the tatami I always have a plan for how to fight. It’s impossible to fight the same way against everyone. I never go into a fight without some strategy.
JC: In 2015, you had some serious injuries on your back and knee. What was the long recovery period like for you psychologically?
MK: That was the hardest time of my life. I wanted to train and to fight so badly but I just couldn’t. I felt really bad and very weak at the same time. I thought I would not ever be able to get back into shape. Thank
JC: After recovering, you lost to Erika Miranda (BRA) at the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, your first defeat in a very long time. How did that impact you psychologically?
MK: I cannot lie. I felt very bad even though I didn’t let it show. Immediately after the match I told others that it’s normal for champions to lose sometimes. But I was burning up inside. After I returned to Kosovo, I trained really hard and told myself, this will not happen in Rio!
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