Czech Head Sports Director of the International Judo Federation Vladimir Barta was an athlete himself in the time of Czechoslovakia. He was multiple champion of his country and even World Champion at the World University Championships in 1980 U78kg. He became Sports Director since 2008 and since then he has been at most of the IJF World Tour events. He witnessed the rise of a remarkable athlete of his own country: Lukas Krpalek, now a global judo superstar in his country and in the world of Judo.
Barta: “There was a big celebration for Lukas in Prague last week. I realised then that I have been very lucky to be a part of this Krpalek era. In 2008 I was in Bangkok for my first event as Head Sport Director, the junior worlds, and Lukas won gold at that event, as a first year junior. He was 5kg light for the category, already -100kg but he beat all by ippon except the Japanese, still a waza-ari win. He didn’t speak much English then and just joking I said to his coach that if he can continue winning like that through his career he would need to improve that. He did both things, improving both his results and his English and now the interviews are many!”
“I have followed all his medals right up to Doha last week and what a happy witness I am! I remember the Olympic final in Tokyo when Lukas got a first shido and then a second. The coach shouted ‘excellent’ and I was so shocked. Who would say ‘excellent’ at their athlete getting a second shido? Before that final he always lost against Tushishvili (GEO) but Lukas and his coach made the plan and the only intention was to make him tired. The tactics were to open his judo only at that right moment. He had never beaten him before so the plan was to push the lactate level as high as possible and then take the advantage and he did it perfectly; very risky, very intelligent.”
“Here in Linz, Krpalek arrived back at over 100kg and this sparked a lot of guessing but his intention is very clear, to qualify in both categories and have the luxury of choice ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.”
This article was originally published on www.judoinside.com