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Judoka Gemma Gibbons on breaking her wrist, putting on weight and going for gold at Rio.

Gemma Gibbons: 'Everyone can get something out of judo.' Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian

Hi Gemma! How do you train to be an Olympic silver-medal-winning judoka?

by Rachel Dixon

Every weekday morning I start with "prehab", or exercises to prevent injury. I focus on the shoulders and knees, which are especially prone to damage in judo. Then I work on my technique for 90 minutes. Later I'll do one-and-a-half to two hours of conditioning work: either weights, CV or a mixture of both.


                  Judo Olympic Preparation

On Tuesday and Thursday evenings I do "randori", or free fighting. It's basically sparring at full intensity. I have some weekends off, while others are taken up with training camps or competitions.

You broke your thumb at the Olympics. How did you work your way back from injury?

I had a couple of months off with my thumb in a cast. When it was in a splint I started light training and CV work. A couple of months later I started judo training again. I knew I wanted to be back in action for the British Championships in January.


Not only were you back, you won – and you won the Dusseldorf Grand Prix in February. But you missed the European Championships in April – what happened?

I've got a broken wrist at the moment. I was lifting weights and as I was doing a "clean", the bar rolled on to my wrist and it snapped in half. It was pretty painful … I did a lot of screaming! The support is about to come off and I should be competing again in a couple of months.

Are you aiming to be back for a particular competition?

The big aim is the World Championships at the end of August, but there are two other competitions before then: the Grand Prix in Mongolia and the Grand Slam in Russia.

Do you follow a strict diet?

I had to put on weight before the Olympics because I was moving up a weight category. I needed lots of calories, but I was eating more healthily than ever. Now my focus is on recovery and strengthening my bone as it heals, so I'm still eating as healthily as possible but not focusing on putting on weight.

What's your typical daily diet when you're training?

For breakfast I'll have a homemade smoothie with frozen strawberries, natural yoghurt, oats, honey, frozen banana, a scoop of protein powder and a scoop of creatine.

Lunch is whatever I can grab. It will be some kind of protein and fruit if I've had time to prepare it at home. Otherwise it might be a sandwich, and a piece of cake if I fancy it.

Dinner depends on whether I've got randori and how busy I am. It might be an omelette, sweet potato and green beans. Generally I try to have lots of vegetables, fruit and protein.

What do you have as a treat?

I snack on protein bars, but they're not exactly a treat … I love Cadbury's – anything plain, like a Flake.


It was your hen weekend recently – did you let your hair down?

I didn't go crazy but I did have a few cocktails and caught up with friends. It was my hen do and I'm not fighting for two months!

How do you relax away from judo?

Just normal stuff: I go to the cinema or watch a movie at home, go out to eat with my boyfriend [fellow GB judoka Euan Burton] and go shopping with friends.


What advice would you give to someone who wanted to take up judo?

Get on to the British judo website, find a club and go along. Take a couple of friends if you don't want to go alone. Everyone can get something out of judo: male or female, young or old.

Which other athletes do you admire?

Growing up, I admired the athletes I saw on TV: Sally Gunnell, Steve Redgrave. But I also admired Kate Howey, Britain's most successful judoka. I looked up to her so much and now she's my coach, which is incredible.

What is your goal for the future?

Definitely gold in Rio. I was ecstatic with my silver in London, but I want to go one better.

And finally, tell me about being a sports ambassador for Cancer Research UK

I'm really happy about becoming an ambassador. I lost my mum to leukaemia at 17, so it's a cause that's close to my heart. I'm really glad that I can be a part of raising awareness about the great work they do.


Gemma Gibbons is a sports ambassador for Cancer Research UK. For more information on the charity's running events, visit cruk.org/sportchallenges.

SOURCE: guardian.co.uk

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