Judoka Yuri Alvear will be competing in her third Olympics. After securing seventh place in Beijing 2008 and a judo bronze medal in London 2012, she has only one goal: a gold medal in Rio de Janeiro. The Bogotá Post spoke with her to find out if she feels ready to fulfill her biggest dream.
“I can say that the preparation is going very well, says Yuri Alvear. The Colombian Olympic Committee [COC] has given me a budget to pay my trainers and an international training camp in Barcelona. Apart from that I will be training with them and my team from the Valle de Cauca department in Cali, they are constantly with me helping me prepare for that ultimate goal, the Olympic gold medal.”
The 30-year-old from Jamundí, in the shadow of Cali, continued: “I haven’t had any physical problems and I am very happy with the financial support from the COC. I will be travelling to Rio on the August 1, where I will continue my preparation on the stage of the tournament which will happen on August 10.”
As a 22-year-old in Beijing, she didn’t make it through to the quarter-finals but then four years ago she achieved a bronze medal in London. This year that won’t be enough. “I am very satisfied and feel fortunate that I can go again and compete with very strong competitors. Obviously this is the third time and I am much more experienced, I feel better prepared than ever. My goal is to get to the highest step of the podium. That is what I have been working on, since London 2012. After my bronze medal my coach told me, ‘Yuri, you can win the gold medal, that is what we are going to work for’, and that is what we have been doing.”
Alvear is confident she can fight through the tough times: “I have encountered setbacks, because of injury or when things just don’t go the way you want them to go, but I have always come through those moments. I remind myself about the big objectives, winning the Olympic gold medal, being the best in my sport. I remind myself of the triumphs I have already celebrated. I realise that I have had difficulties in the past but have been able to come out stronger. And of course my family, trainers and teammates are always there to cheer me up.”
Her status as one of the favourites for the gold medal doesn’t add to her stress. “I feel very confident about going to Rio de Janeiro as one of the favourites in the 70kg category. ” Part of that confidence comes from lessons she has learned from her former rival, “I really admire the judoka from France, Lucie Decosse, who won the gold medal in London 2012 before she retired. She won everything in the Olympic cycle before London. You have to be really well equipped physically and mentally to come to an event with that favouritism and be capable of winning the Olympic title.”
Alvear feels she can do what Decosse did four years ago, adding, “The category has been really strong over the last years, but I have come here with a lot of mental and physical strength. I am confident I can win the title.”
By Freek Huigen