Gabriel Mendes is one of the biggest names in the American judo scene right now. The black belt raised his stakes at the last tournaments, winning 17 straight gold medals since March 2017. The most recent was in February, when he won the San Jose Buddhist and Sensei Memorial Invitational Judo Tournament in San Jose, California.
Training for about 20 years since his childhood, Gabriel reveals the secret of a good performance at those tournaments: experience and maturity.
“With time and experience comes the maturity at the moment of the fight, so you can be more calm and relaxed to analyze the fight visualizing what you need to do to win. Of course, without a good technical and physical training none of this would be possible” said Gabriel, who also trains jiu-jitsu two times a week to be better at his ground game.
Those good performances by Gabriel were caught by the attention of the USA Judo National Team, who invited him for training with some of their athletes at their training center at Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“I’ve already been there on a few occasions in the last two years. Their trainings happens at American Olympic Center at Colorado Springs, where the national team trains every week to intensify their sessions and prepare for the next tournaments, like the World Championship and the Pan-American. Their structure is impressive and has everything that a athlete needs, for example a full equipped physical therapy facility. It’s a full week of training. Two sessions per day with a focus on the technical part in the morning and the handori part on the evening.”
Gabriel was elected the MVP at the US Open for two straight gold medals, being the best fighter in a competition that has 850 competitors from 25 different countries. With a hell of a resume, the young Brazilian spoke about the importance of training in America and how this exchange of experience helps on making the sport more popular.
“Between those trainings with their national team that i do at Studio 540, some of the fighters use to come asking for help about some positions or the better way of doing a technique. As a more experienced athlete i try to share my vision about some situations at the time of the fight or about training a specific move. When the USA Confederation calls me for the training camps, they try to make the best possible camp for the athletes and i can help them while making them training harder.”
Gabriel will return to the competition at July and he dreams about competing in the next Olympic Games in 2020.