Anastasia-Alexandra Nenova interview with Hannah Martin for Sports Star.
Hannah Martin was born 27 June 1988 in Schenectady, New York, United States. She is in the -63kg weight category in Judo. She won two bronze medals and two silver medals at four different Grand Prix tournaments- Abu Dhabi, Ulaanabaatar, and twice at Tashkent respectively. She won bronze at the Pan American Championships on four different occasions. Hannah also captured the bronze at the Pan American Games in 2019.
When, where and how did you get into Judo?
My judo journey began by accident. I like to tell everybody this because I literally had to beg my father to try judo. I was 8 years old when I was brought to my first judo class to “watch” my younger brother. “Judo is only for boys”, my dad kept telling me and with lots of hesitation and my constant whining my dad FINALLY let me put on a gi. Once I stepped foot on the tatami, it felt like I had conquered the world.
You have been on the circuit for a really long time, tell us your secret for longetivity in Judo?
First and foremost, you really need to love what you do. I am passionate about the sport, and I honestly enjoy training. The pure love for the sport has kept me in it.
What is your most memorable moment in your Judo career?
This is a tough question, there have been so many great moments through the years that I will never forget. One of the most memorable ones would have to be winning bronze in the 2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. A few weeks before the competition, I injured my back to the point where I could barely walk.
I was going to withdraw from the competition but since I paid money from my own pocket, I decided to go for it. We had no coach from the USA team there and my only goal was to win my first fight, but I ended up on the podium! This memory will always be special because I proved to myself how mentally tough, I was. Also, after this medal I reached my highest ranking on the world ranking list- #9.
What advice would you give to athletes who wish to continue their Judo career into their 30s?
Listen to your body and take more rest days.
There’s a common misconception that women can’t be professional athletes and have a family. What would you comment on this?
This idea can’t be more wrong. Yes, I am not going to lie, life is a lot different with a baby. You are no longer the priority anymore. However, I believe you can do anything you put your mind too. It is all about mindset.
How do you balance the mother-wife-athlete lifestyle?
Great question. Some days especially the hard days, I honestly don’t know how I do it. It is like you have a “mommy sense” and you just get it done- no matter what. But really, I owe it all to Miguel, my husband, he loves judo just as much as I do. Without him, I wouldn’t be able to go to training, or work, or sleep.
What was your life like as an athlete before you became a parent and how has it evolved since?
Before I became a parent, I only had to worry about me, basically it was eat, sleep, train, now there are a million other things I need to accomplish during the day with a lot less SLEEP.
Did you train during your pregnancy?
Yes. I lifted weights and I went running but stopped after 5/6 months. I did lots of circuits that were judo related. Even on days that I didn’t feel so good I always did something, whether it was going for a walk or 20 minutes of yoga. I trained almost every day. Right before I went into labor, I was getting ready to do a home workout.
What does a typical week of training look like for you?
3 lifting sessions, 3 cardio sessions, 1 circuit (judo related), 4-5x judo sessions.
What motivates you to train and compete currently?
My daughter Zoey is my motivation. I want to show her what it is like to be strong and go after your goals. Since the pandemic basically cancelled judo in 2020, I feel like I still have unfinished business.
Which tournaments are upcoming?
My next competition will be in June- Tbilisi Grand Slam.
Are you aiming to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games?
I am taking it one goal at a time. I want to focus on my short-term goals.
What are your current goals and ambitions in Judo?
The goal is to always win of course, but I hope at the same time I can break the barrier and inspire women and future moms.
When you’re not training, what do you enjoy doing for fun?
As a mommy, my idea of fun is to sit on the couch after a long day watching a good series on Netflix- or read a book, but I always end up falling asleep!
What are your plans after Judo? Will you continue to be involved in the sport even after competitive Judo?
Yes. Judo is and always will be a big part of my life. I hope my daughter eventually does competitive judo but that is totally up to her.
Athlete Hannah Martin, -63kg Half Middleweight Judoka representing the USA.
Interviewed by Anastasia-Alexandra Nenova