Judo’s Ono: ‘Making Adjustments Is What Athletes Do’

The old saying is you either adapt or perish. When it comes to athletes in the time of the coronavirus, that saying has never been truer. Olympics athletes, who have waited years for their moment of glory, are using it for motivation.

Judoka Shohei Ono of Japan has been preparing for the Olympics, an event that was supposed to take place this year in Japan. Due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19, the Olympics were postponed until 2021. As a result, the International Judo Federation created a plan to extend Olympic qualifiers from May 25 to June 30. For Ono, the idea to hold off on activity didn’t seem to affect him..

“I’ll save my energy until the time comes,” Ono stated to Kyodo News. “This time allows me to change and evolve so I’m thinking of it as a plus.”

A multi-time medalist, Ono won gold in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. One of the top ippon fighters in the world, Ono was able to take a break from action to focus on his studies, returning to competition in 2018. The layoff has provided him time to properly train since he felt rusty compared to others.

“Now was not originally the time to push myself,” Ono continued. “But it’s been three years since I got back on the tatami. Next year will be the fourth, so it fits the Olympic cycle.”

As the coronavirus continues to alter a variety of combat sports, the governing bodies have found ways to work around the virus. Whether by postponing events until later, creating video content or through other means, athletes and owners are doing their best to stay active. Ono doesn’t see the layoff as an issue. After all, even during a time when there are more questions compared to answers, some things stay the same.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s this year or next year, because making adjustments is what athletes do,” Ono said. “It will always be about delivering the best, the biggest and the strongest performance at that time and place.”

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