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    London 2012 failure prompted judoka suicide - coach


    Jerry Hays

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    London 2012 failure prompted judoka suicide - coach

    Post by Jerry Hays on Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:02 am

    © RIA Novosti. Vladimir Baranov

    London 2012 failure prompted judoka suicide - coach
    by R-Sport at 17/06/2013 11:47

    Failure at the London 2012 Olympics was a contributing factor in the apparent suicide of Russian judoka Elena Ivashchenko, a judo official who knew her said Monday.

    Ivashchenko, a four-time European champion who lost in the quarterfinals of the +78kg category, died Saturday morning after jumping from a 15th-floor apartment in the Siberian city of Tyumen. She was 28.

    Russian media reports have said Ivashchenko had been in a state of severe depression, and the director of the "Tyumen Judo" Olympic preparation center Vyacheslav Yurlov claimed it was set off by the Olympic flop.

    "Elena Ivashchenko was a beautiful, kind and sociable person; a strong athlete on the mat but a fragile girl off it," Yurlov said.
    "Her depression started after her defeat at the Olympic Games. She really punished herself for this. Those athletes she lost to, she has beaten them before several times."

    Yurlov was referring to Idalys Ortiz, the Cuban judoka who dumped Ivashchenko out of the competition and went on to win the gold medal.
    Ivashchenko also needed several operations on a leg injury, Yurlov said, with the next surgery scheduled for July.

    "She never complained, she put up with it all, kept it bottled up inside," he said. "It seems that she couldn't cope with the emotional weight of it all, and opted for suicide."

    Ivashchenko's sudden death has reverberated around the international judo community, with European Judo Union calling her “one of the strong pillars of the Russian women’s team and in her category.”

    “Her performances and her personality will be forever in our minds," said a statement issued Sunday.

    Ivashchenko finished seventh in London. She won gold at the European Judo Championships in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012. She took silver at the 2008 worlds and bronze in 2007 and 2011.

    Source:  http://themoscownews.com/sports/20130617/191616568/London-2012-failure-prompted-judoka-suicide---coach.html

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    Re: London 2012 failure prompted judoka suicide - coach

    Post by BillC on Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:21 am

    Repeat post of a repeat post of a repeat post ... teachers and coaches can't be reminded too many times that judo is much larger than sport ...

    A drunken man falls from his carriage without hurting himself seriously, remarked Chuang-tsu over two thousand years ago. This is because his body is relaxed and his spirit is entire. But actually confronting a fall, this knowledge is of no use; the body automatically contracts and stiffens.
    A judo student must learn to fall, to meet the ground altogether instead of trying to keep off the ground and taking all the shock on one small point such as the wrist. After a time he can meet a fall on the judo mat, and if the teacher says “Fall’, he can do so.
    Still something is lacking. One day the teacher comes up behind him quietly, and pulls him sharply over. If he falls then properly, it is part of him; he does it without knowing what he is doing. If the surprise makes him stiffen up, his training is incomplete.
    Even after he can pass this test, there is one more. One day he will fall over, on ice or whatever it is, wholly by chance, and will fall properly. Once this happens, it affects his walking and his judo practice, because before he had always been subconsciously afraid of falling. Now the ground is his friend.
    The application to the Way is to falls in life. To be able to take a disaster or a great failure, with the whole personality, without shrinking back from it, like the big smack with which the judo man (or woman) hits the ground, then to rise at once.
    Not to be appalled at a moral fall. Yet it is not that it does not matter. The judo man tries by every means not to be thrown, but when he is thrown it does not hurt him, and in a sense it does not matter. It matters immensely, and yet it does not matter.
    “Falling seven times, and getting up eight.”

    Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
    Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
    But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
    When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!

    - Kipling

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    Re: London 2012 failure prompted judoka suicide - coach

    Post by kiti on Fri Jun 21, 2013 4:59 am

    Wow, that is so sad.  Bill's post reminds me of my life.  I've been depressed in the past, but I've learned to put things in perspective and realize that when you don't meet the goals you had for yourself, that is not worth becoming totally consumed with.  Life goes on, and there are other goals to be met.

    My best friend, who failed out of nursing school last month, seemed to define herself as a nursing student.  She puts a lot of value in what other people think of her.  When she failed, and even before, I and one of her other best friends kept trying to tell her that she should try her best, she should leave it at that and not worry so much about not passing.  She is naturally an uptight person and a worrier.  When she failed, there were many people she did not tell.  At work, to friends, and others she would reply to "how's school?" with "so far so good."  Fine, other people don't need to know her business, but she took it way too hard.  She went home for the summer last week, and she is still upset, she said she hopes the plane crashes on her way back.  Then her other friend said "and what about all the other people on the plane?" I am picking her up at the airport when she comes back, and I told her I will see her then!  I have been helping her apply to different programs of study and trying to help her figure out what to do, and most of the time she seems ok.

    I also have a history of failing out of school.  I was an engineering student, with one year left to graduate.  I often remind her of this, especially when she starts going on about how stupid she is because she failed out of nursing school.  She thinks I am so smart, but I just remind her she's not the only person who has ever failed out of school!

    I don't define myself just as a nursing student, though that's part of me.  I don't put all my worth in becoming a nurse.  I don't believe it is a sure thing that I will graduate in the anticipated year and a half.  I realize there are many reasons I could have to drop out of school (my biggest fear for not being able to finish school is getting sick three times and getting kicked out, like that poor student this past semester).  I know if I don't finish school, it will have no effect on my current employment or quality of life or my friends or family and really it isn't something that matters, even though it does.
    Cichorei Kano

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    Re: London 2012 failure prompted judoka suicide - coach

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Fri Jun 21, 2013 5:29 am

    There is something very particular about failing to accomplish something in judo. When you simply fail an exam, there are sometimes ways to rectify the situation, by demanding re-evaluation or an appeal, or one might have to blame oneself for not studying enough. In other sports, let's say track and field, failing to win gold is often different. If the tape shows you were second or third or whatever, you simply did not win gold, end of story. But in judo ... you may have done everything possible, and should have been a winner, but a fluke from the referee can destroy everything you lived for during years. Take the Douillet/Shinohara case. That's it, that was it for Shinohara. There may be no way of saying, well I'll try again in 4 years. Age etc, may prevent then. Almost Yamashita had it coming too in 1980. Everyone just KNOWS that if he had participated, he would have been the sole one to repeat Ruska's famous double. Unfortunately, Japan boycotted the 1980 Olympics. Now Yamashita luckily was still at an age that 1984 was an option. I have seen so many great judoka been deprived of gold. Oftentimes a judoka doesn't have much else besides his judo. They don't always have an education, they often do not have the social skills to be very desirable as employees, it depends. In any case, I can well understand that from a personal point of view, the disappointment may be such that one simply does not want to continue living. I am not suggesting at all that such is the right or best way to do. But not everyone has a supporting family or spouse or children either, nor does every country have a well-organized psychotherapy system. How many topjudoka have not taken their own life ?  Many of you may remember recent cases, but I know of a lot more, many that predate the Internet age or simply did not make the international press. Today these things are talked about much more openly than decades ago. In the days when the church still has a bigger grasp on daily life, many people regarded suicide as a mortal sin, and I remember that in some cases it was prohibited for someone who had committed suicide to be have a funeral in church. I remember a case in my club in the 1970s. We were told in one sentence by our sensei that X was no longer. That was it, and a minute of silence. It was further treated with great secrecy, no one publicly even dared to mention the term 'suicide'. There was the tragic case of Abe Ichirô's best pupil, quadruple European Champion Daniel Outelet in the 1960s, Barbara Classen, and many others. Of course, not all these suicides really had anything to do with judo, just because the person was a judoka. Judoka too have personal problems in their relationships and others and obviously deserve respect for their privacy. Nevertheless, as pointed out, there have been multiple suicides among very successful judoka. I dare to say that perhaps even there could have been a lot more if the person would not have quit judo in the end. What I am saying is that I know of various cases where the competitor suffered from serious psychological problems due to the stress of competition. I have said this many times before, but I also realize that it is an extremely unpopular view, that competitive judo in many cases has an outspoken negative effect on health. I understand that it is important for people who invest money and their life in judo and run clubs to attract new members and emphasize the positive effects of judo, and luckily those are many. But, but ...  unlike what is oftentimes perpetuated by federations, negative effects on social and psychological development of youngsters due to competition are many. It's a fantastic feeling to win competitions and become a champion, and yes, it can give a great feeling of satisfaction, but for every champion there are many losers, people who lose judo matches again and again, quit judo, may have mental bruises for a long time. It took until the last 2-3 years before finally research findings that had existed for decades made it to the public opinion and the press pointing out that dozens of fatal judo accidents had occurred in children in Japan. One does not have to exaggerate the other way either. It does not make judo more dangerous than many other sports, but it also does not make it safer or healthier. With regard to the psychological effects of judo unfortunately we are not there yet, but research findings there too for decades have pointed out some sometimes considerable negative effects of judo competition.


    "The world is a republic of mediocrities, and always was." (Thomas Carlyle)
    "Nothing is as approved as mediocrity, the majority has established it and it fixes it fangs on whatever gets beyond it either way." (Blaise Pascal)
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    "I am never wrong. Once I thought I was, and that was a mistake."

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    Re: London 2012 failure prompted judoka suicide - coach

    Post by kiti on Fri Jun 21, 2013 8:28 am

    That's a very honest look at it, CK.  As much as I disliked the way my parents raised me sometimes, I think it did a lot of good for me in the end.  I was almost never allowed to participate in any competitions, I was sent to school in clothing that any reasonable person would know I would be picked on for.  I was not taught to fight back or fight for myself or anything like that.  If I was verbally or physically assaulted at school, I would just stare back in stunned silence.  In the end I think it made me tougher than a lot of people and more able to handle disappointment.  If I had children, I think I would raise them the same way my parents raised me.  Once, a few years ago, my cousin's 6-year-old daughter saw me at my BJJ class and wanted to try it.  I bought her a cheap kid's gi and took her to the kid's class.  She attended four times.  The last time she was there, the poor thing almost started crying on the mat.  She was the only girl, and all the other students were far more experienced than her.  She was so upset and asked not to come back.  It made me feel bad and of course I never asked her to go to the class again.

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    Re: London 2012 failure prompted judoka suicide - coach

    Post by Stacey on Fri Jun 21, 2013 10:26 am

    when ones entire value is tied up in winning, there's a problem.  Yes, refereeing can be arbitrary, and we're most apt to remember those times when the ref ruled unfairly against us than when s/he ruled fairly or unfairly in our favor.  Because of that bit of lottery that runs through judo, we cannot be so wound up in winning.

    It is a tragedy that this judoka, according to her coach, placed such a huge value in winning that failing to win caused her her life.  The injuries also had to have something to do with it; nothing says you're moving out of elite and into a different phase of your judo life than too many surgeries and injuries.  It is a shame that the next phase of ones judo life is not just as valued as that elite career, whether topped with an Olympic medal or not.

    Remember; the vast majority of judoka at the Olympics do not earn a medal.  The value of the Olympics must lie outside the expectation of a medal, especially a gold.  Yes, winning is an excellent feeling, but losing should not feel like defeat.  Participation to the best of your ability is in no way defeat.

    I'm getting tired of hearing of so many judoka committing suicide.  These are young, talented people.  They should be given the chance to become old, talented people.  The measure of a judoka is not in the number or type of medal; it's in the judo.  And it's in the judo for the entire life of the judoka.

    It's equally as disturbing for me to hear the coach quoted as saying that she was strong on the mat, but fragile off the mat; what was s/he doing to protect her?  What was s/he doing to help her?  If we know a judoka is fragile, what is our obligation?  I don't think it ends when a judoka leaves the mat.  I also think you bear some responsibility for how a judoka's performance on the mat effects him/her off the mat.


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    Re: London 2012 failure prompted judoka suicide - coach

    Post by techman on Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:45 pm

    What amazingly honest comments from people that I respect on this forum, and how true they are. Judo as many of us know is far more than competition, and as we get older and enter a different phase we appreciate and understand this more.
    For many years I have felt that many competitive judoka are manipulated by a system that sees winning as the ultimate and only goal. Failure to meet this standard after years of hard training can, and does have a ,deep and lasting effect on many players.
    And yet we continue to push younger players into competitive judo, and often forget about how they feel if they fail to win. Feelings that they have not only let themselves down, but have let down family(who often meet the expense of travel etc)and their coach, can result in insecurity, and worse
     if left undetected.
    Do coaches, or even parents in some cases, have the skills to identify this and respond accordingly?
    I never push my kids into competition, they are allowed to make their own decisions as to which sports they do, and at what level they compete. They do it for themselves, not for me as a parent or a coach.

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    Re: London 2012 failure prompted judoka suicide - coach

    Post by afulldeck on Sat Jun 22, 2013 4:26 am

    Stacey wrote:
    I'm getting tired of hearing of so many judoka committing suicide.  These are young, talented people.  They should be given the chance to become old, talented people.  The measure of a judoka is not in the number or type of medal; it's in the judo.  And it's in the judo for the entire life of the judoka.

    Stacey, I agree with you but like to add to your thought "...The measure of a judoka is not in the number or type of medal; it's...." in living a full whole life, challenges & defeats using principle of judo. 

    Life is much more than judo and we need to teach every single judoka how to become resilient using judo--resilient against the vulgarities and the vitriolic nature of life. Every single negative act like suicide is a failure of our principles.

    “I have never wished to cater to the crowd; for what I know they do not approve, and what they approve I do not know.” ... Epicurus at Sen. Lucil, 29.10

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