Guest Post: Interview with a Potential Olympian

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tom Davis is a judo competitor I met through Sport Makers campaign.  His schedule is quite busy, but he was kind enough to allow a virtual email interview.  He is hoping to compete at the London 2012 Olympics, representing Team Great Britain.  Here, he shares a bit with us about being a competitor and how sports influenced his life.

M:  Where did you grow up?  Was your family very active/into sport?
T:  I grew up in Wembley London.  My family was not very active but active enough.  My mum was a great supporter of me and took me to try lots of different sports.  One was judo.

M:  What activities did you do as a kid (sports, music, art, etc)?  When did judo start for you and was it your favorite?
T:  I did judo and athletics.  My older brother (by 6 years) did it judo so I wanted to try it as soon as I was allowed.

M:  Do you cross-train with other sports now? Do you ever take time off from training (periodization)?
T:  For cross-training, I don't just stay on mat but do rowing, circuits with weights, and have dabbled in gymnastics and pilates.  As far as periodization goes, I don’t take masses of time off but schedule different volumes throughout year. I usually have down periods after competitions. 

M:  How often do you train?  What is a typical session like?  Do you work with a coach or develop your own training plans?
T:  Right now, I train 10-15 sessions a week.  It’s not typical apart from randori which is fighting practice for 1.5-2hrs.  I spend 1hour sessions on tech circuits and weights intervals.

M:  How many calories to you consume in a day? What is your meal plan like? Do you work with a nutritionist and/or take supplements?
T:  I don’t overly calorie count try to eat healthy.  When I am cutting weight, I just reduce portions sizes and the amount of carbohydrates I eat. I do work with nutritionalists periodically.  The important thing is eating at the right times.  I do take supplements.  In fact, I only just started taking protein just for that 20min post-training window. I also take glucosamine, vitamins, beta alanine, amino acids, HMB, ZMA, colostrum, and cod liver oil as needed in my training schedule.
M:  What do you love about judo? Do you ever get frustrated with it or wish the rules were different?
T:  I love getting to fight and train everyday and make it my career.  I love the traveling too. It can be frustrating relying on other people though.  A few years ago the judo rules change and my favorite move was banned.  But, as in all sports you develop, so I have changed my style and got a few sneaky new moves.

M:  Have you ever tried any other martial art disciplines? If so, what did you think?
T:  I have tried Brazilian ju jitsu. It is ok (basically it is judo’s ground work) but I didn’t massively like it as it was a change from what I normally do.  It is also a lot slower which gives you fewer chances to score.  Everyone likes winning and scoring.

M:  What qualities do you think are essential in a coach?
T:  A coach should have skills in listening, lots of knowledge, be understanding and have the ability to self evaluate themselves.  My coach is very composed and is a thinker.  He is relaxed and doesn’t respond with knee jerk reactions. 

M:  What do you think it takes to be an Olympic athlete?
T:  Obviouslty, it takes drive and motivation. You have to create a high performance environment for yourself.  It helps to not have any barriers in the way (e.g. funding).  You do need a little talent but I can name 20 people in my peer group who did better than me as cadets but up to 16 of them (for various reasons) are not still competing.

M:  What are your overall career goals with judo? 
T:  I want to have no regrets.  With my potential, I believe I can medal on the biggest stages-European World Cup, Grand Slam Worlds, and hopefully Olympics. 

M:  Are there any sports you would like to try but haven't yet?
T:  Something that challenges you but is fun like ultimate frisbee and parkour.

M:  I understand you have some Olympic tickets.  Which events are you going to see? What are you looking forward to with the Olympics (competing, London as a setting, the energy, the multi-culturalism, etc)?
T:  I am looking forward to the world coming to London- the party atmosphere, big screens in parks etc. I have tickets for judo and beach volleyball.  My brother got weightlifting, athletics, and wrestling tickets so if I play my cards right, it could be a busy couple of weeks.

M:  Do you have any mantras or favorite quotes that motivate you to train or compete?
T:  “Success is not a destination.  It’s a journey.”  That keeps me going. I also like “The ups and downs and the downs and ups are what make us.”

M:  Judo has allowed you to quite a bit of traveling.  Where is your favorite place in the world so far and why?
T:  Thailand was just completely different.  I loved the food, culture and how nice the people were.

M:  There isn't much out there in the web about you.  What do you want people to know about?
T:  (LOL) Judo isn’t really high profile and I haven’t achieved much yet.  There is more to come. Just watch this space.   Nah, I am a massive believe in the power of sport and activity and how it can change lives.  I dread to think where I would be if I hadn’t have gone back to judo after a brief exodus as a teenager.  Judo has changed me as a person and provided me with all my opportunities.  At 17, I could have been doing anything....and I guarantee it wouldn’t have been as good as this. 

 Tom and I at a Sport Makers Beyond 2012 Event, ExCel Centre, London

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