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Portugal's Judo International Competitor Catarina Rodrigues has an impressive competitive history and has been Women's National Champion many years. She got in touch with us about photos of her at the Hyundai World Judo Championships 1999. Impressively, she has been competing at world level since 1991. We put some questions to 27 year old 3rd Dan Catarina. The results made very interesting reading as she is also an Official.

Hi Catarina How long have you been involved with judo and what got you interested?

 Hi Dave, I started judo in a private school when I was about 5 years old. Then I stopped for a couple a years and when I was eleven I restarted judo again at my Club, Ginásio Clube Português (in Lisbon).

My mother's family have some tradition in judo. My mum, her two brothers and my grandfather, they all did judo once in their life's. Although none of them reached the black belt. I was the first to do so...

Is judo big in your country and in your opinion what would make it bigger?

Judo in Portugal has not many practitioners. As a child many people try judo in
private schools but then they give up. We have about 7000 licenses for year, at the Portuguese Judo Federation. Since 1991, the Portuguese started to do well in International major events, first Junior and then Seniors. In 1995 and 1997 we won Medals in the World's ( Filipa Cavalleri -56 and Guilherme Bentes -71) and in last two year we had two European Champion and one Silver Medal (Nuno Delgado -81 and Michel Almeida -73 were Champions and Paula Saldanha -52 was 2nd).

In Portugal football gets almost all the official support, so judo is missing the financial and the structures support. Although things have improved in the last 10 years.

Who is your Coach?

My coaches are João Neves and Horácio Nunes, but most of the time I do my preparation with the National team, and with the national coach António Matias.

Are there any rules that you would change?

I think judo must find a way to make competitions shorter, so the media would feel more attracted to our sport. I also think many fights have been decided in penalties (especially in heavy weights) which I don't like, but I don't really know the correct solution to this problem.

What is your most memorable competition and why?

It's difficult to answer....the first time I was National Champion I was very happy, but the European Championships in 1993 in Athens, were I was 5th, was the first time I fought for a medal in such a big event and I was thrilled and surprised. But in 1994 and 1995 I fought in two Europeans semi-final and finished 5th again (3 following times!!) which was really disappointing not being able to reach the medals!

How long have you been an international competitor?

My first international competition was the World Junior Championships 1990, in Dijon.

What are your favorite techniques?

I don't really have one very strong techniques, but the Sode and Eri Seonage, are the techniques I most use in competition.

Who in your opinion is the greatest woman competitor?

There are some great Women players. When I was a Junior, Emanuela Pierantozzi was my favorite, because she was the champion on my weight division. I still think she is a great athlete ( and person) to come back again in such a good form. She won her first World Championship in 1989!! But I also like to see fighting Gella Vandecayeve (she is such a smart fighter..), Tamura (such speed and determination) and I also like Kate Howey, I remember her since junior and I think she have been a little unlucky in all the finals she have lost (world's 95 and some European 91, 2000 ...) I was please when she finally won the World's in Paris 1997.

How would you explain to somebody who knows nothing about judo, what it is and what are the benefits?

Coming from Japan, Judo started like a Martial Arts, but is now more like a sport. An Olympic Sport where there is respect and some traditions from the Martial Arts still incorporated. Trying to make your opponent stretch in to your benefit is the principle of judo, but can also be use in your daily life. With the Judo practice you will learn how to control yourself and to respect others....at least you should!

When you retire from competition do you see a position for yourself in another role in judo?

I would like to teach young competitors (under 20), but at the present date, I already have another role in judo besides competing, I organize the National Competitions for the Portuguese Federations. When I go abroad I try to pay attention to the several organizing matters of the competitions, so I can improve my work in Portuguese championship organization.

Good luck in all your future judo ventures.


So Dave did you already find any of my competition Photos?

I'm still looking but if any other photographers have a good photo of Catarina, could they please send it in.

More interviews from around the World coming soon.