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Schlesinger: I cannot describe those last two years!

Interview by ONE.CO.IL

Alice, how was it to represent Britain, climb on the podium and win a medal for another country?

- In the beginning was a bit strange. For many years I represented Israel. But now I feel a part of the British team.

Could you imagine in your worst nightmares that instead of "Hatikvah" you will sing the British national anthem?

- I never thought I would represent another country.
It happened and I have to say thanks for this opportunity because my worst nightmare was to not represent any country.

Was there a moment when you thought you were done with judo?

- There was a period of time when I thought that it might be. It was a very difficult to accept. Judo is my sport and I really wanted to come back. At some point I said to myself: "Now I'm not in judo and I should concentrate on sambo."

Looking back, how do you see all that was done in relation about you?

- I try not to think about it. I cannot describe those two years, I do not want to think about them. If I think - only about the good things that happened during this period. I came out stronger from this story.

There was complicated lawsuit when you were asked to be released and the Israel Judo Association tried to enforce a psychiatric assessment of you.

- I try not to think about it. This was my life for two years, it was not good for myself and I am trying not to come back to it. There are a lot of things that happened and I leave them all behind. With the motivation for the future and positive thoughts.

You are competing in U63 category. What is your physical condition? How do you come back after the break that was forced upon you?

- Speaking of the lack of training for two years - I feel okay. It's not the peak of my physical shape, those 2 years did not do any good to it, but I'm slowly coming back to competitions. Today is not just a return to competition physically - it is difficult psychologically. In competitions I won over athletes, including those who are at the top of the world rankings. I have everything that I need - but I still have a lot of hard work.

Why did you chose UK? Because of your british citizenship?

- Yes, I feel it's my place too. My mom grew up in England, English is my mother tongue and I have relatives here. I feel related to UK more than to any other country.

How did British team reacted to you?

- They think I'm a good judoka, in contrast to what I've heard in the past two years in the Israel judo association. People from judo association did what they did and tried to say that I was not good enough.

Is your goal now to win an Olympic medal?

- Ultimately the goal is to win a medal. I think during those 2 years I went through much more important things than an Olympic medal.

Does this make it possible to look at life from a different perspective?

- First of all, it gave me a different perspective of life. Before this happened, I was a completely different person in my thoughts and opinions. And one day everything changed. I hope to become again the woman who believes in good and trusts people.

Today do you believe in people less?

- Yes, I think so. There are people who were close to me - and I wouldn't have made it through all of this without them. On the other hand - there were many people who I thought would stay close, but they turned their back to me.

Like who?

- Its not important. Whoever did it - they know. People who stayed with me will be with me forever, and this is a positive thing.

Your third Olympic games are ahead of you. Do you feel more mature, did it teach you something?

- Yes, without a doubt. However, now I do not think about the Olympics. I think about how to get back in shape and get everything that I lost on the road back. If I will become the old Alice the judoka again there will be Olympics for me. If not, there will be no Olympics. I came back, its already a victory. I thought it would take me longer. Everyone who's seen me on the mat says I look different, but I do not feel different.

Did you cry over the last 2 years?

- It's easier to ask: was there at least one day when I was happy? There were no such days, and if there were - they can be counted on one hand. They have taken the most important purpose of my life. One day I get up and I cannot do it. No man would have taken it easily.

First Place in the British Judo Championships. Was it strange to win?

- I was not yet a part of the British team back than and it was strange. They looked at me: "Who are you?" Now I am a part of the team, and I'm feeling really good.

Now, when you represent the UK - will you meet with Yarden Gerbi?

- It will probably happen.

Will there be peace between you?

- In spite of everything that has happened in my life - I never had anything personal against Yarden. There was no peace, but there was no war as well. For me Yarden is just like any judoka of another country.

The last time you competed with each other was two years ago. As part of the Grand Prix. Is Gerbi better today? Are you angry at her?

- I'm not angry at her. She's a excellent athlete. I had no chance to show that I am also a good athlete.

When you are both at the peak - who is better?

- There are many great judokas. At this level everyone is good. One is better technically, the other - in tactics, the third in her best shape.

Why do you think Ponti did what he did?

- This is clear enough. Yarden is the member of his club, I have no other explanation. He said that I was worst athlete. It was a week after I came back from the Olympic games. I honestly won The qualification for the Olympics. In IJF World Ranking List I was on the 4th place, Yarden was not among the eight. And he tells me that I'm worst? He made his choice.

There were those who said that this is unprofessional - if the coach is a husband too.

- We achieved results. So, people can talk.

What happens if the training fails and Pavel is angry? How did you split things between the mat and life?

- We know how to do it. We have certain red lines that we never cross. We dont wanna come back home angry at each other, so we solve the problem at the same moment, during the training.

Do you bring home judo problems?

- No, no, no. If he starts talking about judo at home, I say, "Pavel, we don't talk about judo at home. Make me an appointment at the club, I will come and we can talk as long as you want."

What kind of things do you do outside of judo?

- We watch 2-3 movies, sitting in front of the TV and having a dinner together.

Are you already married to Pavel?

- No. We really wanted to get married after London, but we've been very busy with everything that happened in the past two years. We are checking the schedule of events and we want to plan our marriage around that. We need to find the right time to do this without stopping the workouts so we will be able to have fun.

Are you already thinking about children?

- I have thought about it since I was 12 years old. Family and children have always been important to me. I came from a big family and I've always had this dream.

About how many children do you dream of having?

- At least about four.

How has your family accepted Pavel?

- Good, I am very happy with him, and they know that.

Your future children will be your successors?

- Good question. I do not know. Sure, I want them to go into sports, judo, or other sports. They will be athletes.

Are you planning to take part in the elections to the Knesset?

- Yes I am.

How do you see the International Women's Day, which falls on Sunday?

- It is difficult to combine everything in one day. For me the topic of confidence for girls and women is very important, so I opened the group, which I train at the club "Samurai Do". Women must be closer to each other. It is a pity that we think about this one day a year only. Being a woman is not easy, each must think about the aspirations and goals of your life.

What comes to mind when I read these words?

- No comments.

- Opportunity.

- Home, family.

- Everything.

Yarden Gerbi
- Judoka.

Yankale Shahar
- He is one of the people to whom I am grateful for because of what he has done for me those past two years. He supported me, and I'll never forget it. He is one of the people who influenced my life.

- Excellent kind of sport.

- Too far from.

- What I would like to continue to study. I love psychology.

Yoel Razvozov
- Good luck in the election.



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