They are young and motivated and spend most their time doing their favorite sport. Mzia Beboshvili and Eter Liparteliani are young Georgian judokas, who made Georgian judo fans happy by winning gold medals in the Tbilisi Youth Olympics this summer. Yet the way to victory was not smooth and the girls really did their best. Mzia and Eter are good friends, spend lot of time together and during the Youth Olympics they shared a room in the Olympic Village, so the day before the final, as Mzia recalls, they made a promise to each other to reach their goals and win. The young sportswomen fulfilled their dream and in the 52-kg-category 17-year-old Mzia beat a Dutch judoka in the finals and Russian Nasima Ibrahimova in the semi-finals. Before this triumph, Mzia became a champion of Europe which much inspired her for further achievements. As for 15-year-old Eter, she competed with a Finnish sportswoman in the 57-kg-category in the finals to also win gold.
Judo is often considered more of a man’s sport and consequently the number of Georgian judokas is not very high in Georgia, but as the girls note, after the Tbilisi Youth Olympics, more girls got interested in it. There are around 15 girls in the team, they spend many hours together while trainings, are very close to each other and their trainers and live as one big family.
I might be stereotypic, but Judo is perhaps more for men… So, how and why did you decide to go in for Judo?
Eter Liparteliani: I was 7 years old when I first saw how men were training in judo and I was so inspired I started to train with them. It lasted three years, and then I came from my native town, Lentekhi, to Tbilisi and joined the women’s team.
Mzia Beboshvili: -It is a true stereotype that only men should train for the tatami. You saw this summer we showed how women can also be very strong and I hope this stereotype will change soon. Judo is everything for me and I’m really happy to be a part of this sport. First I went in for gymnastics and did well, but it was more for my parents than me. One day I saw judo trainings at my school and it really got my attention, so I went there over and over… and now you see me in the training hall of the judo federation!
How did your parents find your decision?
Eter Liparteliani:-My mom was against this “masculine” sport, but daddy was by my side. After our successful tournament, mom started to change her mind.
Mzia Beboshvili: -First they were against it, not because it’s a more masculine sport, they simply because didn’t know that there is a team of judokas in Georgia. Later they gave me a permission. My father passed away three years ago and my mom is very happy when sees my triumphs. In addition, my sister is also involved in judo.
Your sister…?– Yes. ☺ Elene is 12 years old and she’s my permanent sparring partner and helps me a lot. Sometimes I see her crying in secret because of pains, but she never complains and supports me in refining my technique.
As I know you spend a lot of time training…
Mzia Beboshvili:-Judo takes almost all of our time. We train a lot because it’s not easy to reach victory. I run at 7 a.m. almost every day and train in evenings. I like such a healthy lifestyle and I don’t waste my time senselessly on bad habits, like many people of my age do.
To end, a few words about your impressions of the Tbilisi Youth Olympics.
We wanted to win no matter what and, happily, we did it!
Mzia Beboshvili:-I wanted to make my Georgian fans happy, because they believed in me. The Russian judokas are very strong and judo is well supported in Russia as it’s Putin’s favorite sport. So, it was vitally important for me to beat my Russian competitor in the semi-finals. There was also the social stereotype that Russia is our occupant, so it was a real triumph to win the semi-finals. Afterwards was the finals… I tried and succeeded. It’s hard to describe how happy I was to win and, of course, my victory belongs to my homeland and all Georgian fans.
At the end of our interview, the girls apologized for having to hurry back to the training hall and promised they would try their best to make their fans happy again and again with their further achievements. We wish the Georgian judokas lots of success!