Interview With John Jayne Judoka


John Jayne was born 4 March 1997 in London, England. He has triple nationality- British, Bulgarian and United States. Up until August 2013, John Jayne represented Great Britain. He’s been representing the United States of America ever since. John Jayne placed 7th at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, he also won a Gold medal at the European Open in Warsaw and a Bronze medal at the 2022 Pan American Oceania Championships in Lima. He is an aspiring Olympian.

  1. You have an interesting background. You have American, Bulgarian and British roots. Give us an insight on that.

I was born and raised in London but My Dad is from the States and my Mom is Bulgarian, which gives me my triple Nationality. I decided to compete for the US around 2013 and I’m proud to represent America on the international stage.

John Jayne as a young judoka
John Jane as a young judoka
  1. When, where and why did you get started with Judo?

My Dad took me to my first Judo class at the Budokwai in London when I was 3 years old. Later on, I joined Moberly Stars Judo club, also in London, which is where I developed the majority of my Judo.

I never had a “why” for starting since I started so young, but I liked doing it so I kept on doing it for 22 years and counting now.

  1. Are you training full-time or are you studying and/or working as well?

Currently, I’m a part time student at King’s College London completing an MSc in Mathematics, with the rest of my time spent training for Judo. I will focus more on training and competing after finishing my degree later this year.

  1. You are a fitness instructor. So we assume you come up with your own gym programs. Are we right?

Yes, I’m a strength coach so I program and organise all my training. For the most part, I am in control of all my training on and off the mat, so I have to spend a lot of time studying training methodology to make sure I’m doing things correctly. It’s a little tricky to be confident in my own judgments when it comes to planning my training, especially leading up to competitions, but I am learning to have some faith in myself.

john jayne competing in judo

  1. What does a typical week of training look like for you on a day-to-day basis?

Normally I will try to train every morning in the gym, either strength or conditioning, with conditioning becoming more important closer to competition. In the evenings, I have my judo training or I help coach judo at my home club, Moberly. Sundays are almost always a rest day for me.

  1. You recently started competitive weightlifting- tell us more about it.

I joined my university’s Weightlifting club 2 years ago since I wanted to learn the Olympic lifts to supplement my strength and conditioning. The opportunity arose to compete at a couple local competitions so I decided to give it a try! It was a very fun experience. The nerves you get at a Weightlifting competition are quite different to how you’d feel at a Judo competition. With the upcoming Olympic cycle, I may not be able to compete again in Weightlifting but I’m happy I got to try out a new sport.

John Jane judo

  1. You ended off 2021 with a bang by placing 7th at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, and you’re continuing to boom in 2022 with your Gold medal at the Warsaw European Open and Bronze medal at the Senior Panamerican Championships. It clearly proves that you’re doing something right. How did you manage to reach this point? Has there been changes to your training regime, or have you just reached a peak in your Judo career and performance?

During the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, I spent a lot of time getting stronger, improving my gym lifts and learning about training. That has definitely helped to put me in a position to win more often but I think the recent string of victories has come from a change in my mindset. It seems I compete at my best when there’s nothing going on in my head and I’m just having a bit of fun. I’ve also been working on some small tactical changes which I’m hoping will give me the edge I need to win at the Grand Prix/Slam level.

  1. Have you ever experienced consecutive losses at tournaments? If yes, how did you manage to get over those losses and move forward?

Yes. In fact, before winning gold in Warsaw, I lost in the first round of the previous two competitions. I try to look at both my wins and losses analytically. Both provide a lot of information on what I need to do to improve and no matter whether I win or lose, I’m going to do the same thing afterwards – train to get better.

That being said, I was quite demoralised after the first two competitions this year, but that forced me to delve deeper into my mindset when I compete and look a little into sports psychology. Perhaps without that string of losses, I wouldn’t have won that Gold.

John Jayne wins gold

  1. What are your goals for the upcoming Olympic Cycle?

My first goal of the cycle is to qualify for the Masters in December. Right now my world ranking is 30 but I believe I’ll need to get some more results to ensure my spot. From there, I’m hoping to push into the direct qualification zone for the Olympics.

  1. Tell us about both your best day and worst day of your Judo career.

It’s really hard to think of a specific best day in Judo because the sport has given me so many blessed days. Of course, recently, winning Gold at the Warsaw European Open after two consecutive first round losses was a very special and surreal day. But it’s not just the wins at competitions that are special, I’ve had a lot of great times during training camps, traveling with teammates and making friends from all over the world.

And I can’t really say I’ve had a “worst” day yet. Sure, I’ve had bad days, but the good days in Judo far outweigh them.

  1. What makes you love and be passionate about Judo?

I really love how diverse Judo is. It makes for really exciting competition with a lot of different styles where it’s hard to predict the outcome, and the “better” person doesn’t always win. Even against the worst odds, you can find a way to win.

  1. When you’re not busy with training, what do you enjoy doing?

I enjoy riveting conversations with my two cats.

  1. Any thoughts about life after Judo? Or is it too soon to say?

After my competitive career is over, I am planning to shift my focus to coaching.

Anastasia-Alexandra Nenova interview with John Jayne for Sports Star.

Athlete John Jayne, -90 kg Half Heavyweight Judoka representing the United States of America.

Instagram: @captainjayne97 and @captainjaynetrains

Interviewed by Anastasia-Alexandra Nenova

Instagram: @madeinbulgariaxx

Facebook: @madeinbulgariaxx