Tanja Bozovic, the talented young judoka from Niksic, Montenegro hopes to qualify for the Games in London with the aid of a Solidarity scholarship.
How did you get started in judo?
My older brother had started to train, and I was jealous of him. I didn’t want him to be stronger than me so I begged my parents to let me try! Eventually they gave in, and so it all began. I’m now 17 years old and competing in junior competitions in the 57kg category.
What are the main attributes needed to be a successful judoka?
There are various strengths you need and, of course, people are all different, but my guess is that every judoka needs to be mentally tough. That is one of the most important things in this sport.
How is the Olympic Solidarity scholarship assisting your training and Olympic dreams?
Thanks to the Olympic Solidarity scholarship I can take part in more events across Europe and even in other parts of the world. I can now afford to travel to training camps, which I was not able to do previously – this means my preparation is much better for competitions and I can achieve better results.
What is your training programme like?
I train with both the girls and boys at my judo club – most are older competitors though some are a similar age to me. I train twice daily. Morning training consists of running, strength exercises and judo practice on the mats. In the afternoon, I concentrate on exercise technique, agility and the mental side of things – how to concentrate during a bout. Three times a week I go to aerobics classes and once a week I do heavy weights in the gym.
Have you set yourself any targets for the Games in London?
Assuming I achieve the required number of points to qualify for the Olympic Games, then you can be sure that I want to win a medal in such an important event. Although I am only young, I think that I can represent my country with honour.
Have you been to London before?
No, I have not had a chance to visit the city but I hope to go there in the near future and if not, then definitely next year for the Olympic Games.
What goals, if any, have you set yourself for your career?
I would like to be somebody that my country can be proud of, and to enjoy as long a career in this sport as possible. I wish that in 10 years’ time my name will be synonymous with the sport of judo!
Who were your Olympic heroes or role models when you were growing up?
At first I did not have any role models but since I started as a judoka with dreams of competing in the Olympic Games, Teddy Rinner of France – who has won the World Championships for the last three years – has become one of my biggest role models.
Olympic Solidarity is the body that ensures that talented athletes, regardless of their financial status, have an equal chance of reaching the Olympic Games and succeeding in the Olympic arena.
It is responsible for administering and managing the National Olympic Committees’ share of the revenue from the sale of broadcasting rights to the Olympic Games.
Working in particular with the most disadvantaged NOCs and their Continental Associations, Olympic Solidarity uses this money to develop a range of assistance programmes.
Within its total budget, USD 61 million is earmarked to provide support to athletes for the 2009-2012 Olympic Solidarity quadrennial period.