World Champion and Olympic bronze medallist Anna-Maria Wagner was finally released from her quarantine. For her it was a good moment to look back to the turbulent year which was the most successful of my career, that is just from a sportive point of view, but the mental perspective is something else.
Wagner: “I have had three very tough qualifying years. I was constantly under pressure and had to deliver results, right up to the end. At this stage I was able to keep my focus and power all the time because I had only one goal in mind: the Tokyo Olympics. Then I did the unbelievable: I became world champion six weeks before the games! A success that should really be celebrated. But there was no time for that, as I had to have a full focus on the Olympic Games. I had an almost perfect day there. Everything went as we (my team and I) had imagined and trained: I won bronze in the individual and two days later another medal with the mixed team. The year could hardly have gone better for me.
The weeks that followed were exciting and beautiful: lots of appointments, receptions, interviews and lots of celebrations. But what happens afterwards?
I had one goal in mind all these years, I made it - and then what? Empty. The so-called post-Olympic depression got me. It may be difficult for many "non-athletes" to understand and I never felt bad all the time. I still had so many great moments, but as soon as they were over, the emptiness caught up with me again. I didn't want to know anything about judo for the first few months. I did rehab and training because it was on the plan and there were points to work through.
By the end of the year, I had lost the desire and passion for the sport, and I toyed with the idea of giving up competitive sport completely. Luckily I was never alone during this time! I had a great environment and my coaches never put any pressure on me about when I had to come back. Of course, I also talked a lot with my sports psychologist. Ultimately, however, you carry out the inner struggle with yourself alone.
During my vacation I noticed how I was slowly getting better and found my desire to train again. With New Year's Eve I wanted to put a symbolic line under the year 2021 and go into 2022 with renewed energy. It should start with my first training camp since the games in Cologne, GER. But then came the positive PCR test... and again it knocked the rug out from under my feet. All my resolutions and plans for the new year - gone..
The first week of quarantine was very tough. I was listless, just lay in bed and thought about giving up my judo again...
Things have been slowly picking up since the second week and I've had a lot to think about. It remains to be seen how the training will start. It is important for me to find fun in training again.
I can't say exactly when I'll be back on the competition mat. But one thing is clear: If I enter it again, then I stand behind it 100% and I'm ready to win.”