Odd pre-game rituals and superstitions are commonplace amongst the world’s best athletes.
LeBron James tosses chalk up into the air at the scorer’s table. Michael Jordan wore his North Carolina shorts underneath his uniform throughout his NBA career. Rafael Nadal likes to place his water bottles a certain way and be the first to jump during the opening coin toss. Some NHL goalies even talk to their goal posts.
But German judoka Martyna Trajdos may have the weirdest of them all.
A video showing her coach Claudiu Pusa grabbing the 32-year-old's shoulders, giving her a shake, and proceeding to slap her on each side of her face before she walked onto the mat at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday went viral.
Trajdos came to her coach’s defence on Instagram, stating it was her choice to have that kind of ritual.
“I wish I could have made a different headline today,” read the caption on her instagram post. “As I already said that’s the ritual which I chose pre competition !”
Nothing like a nice palm to the face to get you fired up.
Trajdos joked that the slap “was not hard enough” after the 2019 world championship bronze medallist suffered a disappointing round of 32 loss against Hungarian Szofi Ozbas in the women’s 63-kilogram event.
The International Judo Federation (IJF) didn’t think it was a humorous matter, though. Despite Trajdos taking ownership and making light of the situation, the IJF gave Pusa an “Official Warning and Ultimatum” on Wednesday.
"The IJF addressed a serious official warning towards the German coach, concerning the bad behaviour he showed during the competition," read the IJF’s statement. "Judo is an educational sport and as such cannot tolerate such behaviour, which goes against the judo moral code."
Looks like Trajdos will have to find a new way to get the juices flowing before each match going forward.
Ozbas lost in the round of 16 to Italian Maria Centracchio. France’s Clarisse Agbegnenou won the gold medal by defeating Slovenia’s Tina Trstenjak, while Centracchio and Canada’s Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard won bronze.
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