Gabriella Willems: This time it is extreme

Gabriella Willems took a silver medal at the Grand Slam in Düsseldorf. The Belgian star was in good shape to qualify for the Olympic Games, but the coronavirus outbrake stopped the season.

Willems spoke to Judo Inside about her training methods in self isolation and many more.

Interesting that two top athletes are from Liège, it’s close to where most Belgian major events are held. What is your relation to Charline van Snick?

I know Charline for a very long time because I live at five minutes from her parents. I really appreciate her as we even went on holidays together. I can get inspired of her mentality and  sometimes I ask her about ne-waza.

What are you doing these days now that the judo clubs are closed?

Over here, athletes who were headed for the Olympics have access to the  facilities to do self-training like weight training, circuits and  jogging. No judo but we are allowed to train with dummies.

2018 World Junior Champion Christian Parlati is your friend. He is stuck in Italy where normally you could see each-other at events or visit each-other. How do you cope with this situation?

We are used to deal with distance but this time it is extreme. We call for hours and we try to stay positive. Christian’s situation is harder than mine because he can’t train anywhere else than home.

Are you feeling anxious or frustrated about being locked-down?

Not really because I love to be at home. I get to spend time with my  family, call my boyfriend and chat with him, play with the cat, do some cooking, catch up on some reading and watch some movies. And of course, I train a lot. I’m lucky to live in the countryside where the weather is  good.

Do you feel any withdrawal symptoms from not being able to do any judo though?

Yes, of course. I’ve even asked my dad to put on a judogi!

In Belgium do you have a lot of suitable training partners?

There are not that many suitable randori partners, so we don’t do that much randori. We focus on techniques and drills. For quality randori, we go abroad for training camps.

Read the full interview here.

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