Andreja Leski was born 8 January 1997 in Koper, Slovenia. She won the silver medal at the 2021 World Championships, the bronze medal at the 2021 European Championships and the bronze medal at the 2021 Masters. Andreja has also won multiple gold, silver and bronze medals from Grand Prixs and Grand Slams.
State your name, age, and country that you represent
My name is Andreja Leski, I am 25 years old and I am a Slovenian Judoka in the -63kg weight category.
How old were you when you first started Judo, and how did you get into it?
When I first started Judo I was 6 years old. I went to my first session with my cousin and I really enjoyed it, even though we were mostly playing Judo games- it was fun! I’ve been hooked ever since.
Tell us a little more about you and your hobbies outside of Judo.
I’m very positive and full of energy. I completed my studies last year, so I am a graduated Economist. I’m also an artistic soul, I love instruments. In fact, I know how to play the flute, guitar, and accordion. I love trying new things. For instance, I really enjoy dancing and singing. I also enjoy exploring and experiencing nature. Aside from Judo, I love playing other sports too- ping-pong, table tennis, football, snowboarding, and cycling to name a few. You can easily find me trying something new as I’m interested in everything.
What does a typical week of training look like for you?
My typical week looks like so many training sessions, and so little energy. Just kidding!
My week starts on a Monday at 7 or 7:30 AM. The session is more of a conditioning or fitness training, and lasts no longer than 1 hour and 30 minutes.
I then go to work for a few hours, before going home to prepare lunch and rest until the next training session- which is at 7 PM.
Our evening session is primarily focused on tactics, techniques and randori.
Sometimes some other clubs come from Ljubljana so that we have more partners to do randori with.
Saturday we all get together and go to the sauna at our club, so it’s more relaxing.
Sunday is our day off. I usually completely rest then, or visit my family.
Do you have time to go out and meet with friends?
During the week I can take some time to hang out with my friends, but usually I don’t have the energy for it. I would describe myself as an extrovert, so naturally I love spending time with my friends and doing things aside from Judo. So I make as much time as I can for my friends and other activities.
Which year would you consider your most successful in your Judo career so far, and why?
My most successful year was definitely 2021. Last year, I won my first European Championships medal, my first Masters medal, and my first World Championships medal. So many Grand Prix and Grand Slam medals, and so many points, and such a high ranking on the World Ranking List that I actually can’t believe it.
It was a really successful year, and clearly I was doing something right. I’m so proud of myself for that and I hope I can do it again some year. The only competition that was missing last year was the Olympics, but nevermind. Everything else was so good that I’m happy with that.
What is your most memorable moment in Judo?
My most memorable moment in Judo… is a lot. It’s not only the results or any specific competition, it’s mostly experience that I get in different countries, different cities, and with different people that I meet along the way. I’m really sorry we can’t have such travels as we did before the pandemic, but still, I mostly remember competitions by friends I hang out with and people I meet there.
What sacrifices have you had to make to become one of the highest ranked athletes in the world and achieve the results that you have so far?
The biggest sacrifice is definitely my time. If you train so much, you are very tired most of the time and you can only focus on doing the training sessions well. We also travel so much that we can’t really have a routine at home. So I consider that a sacrifice. But also, we get so much from Judo that not many people can have or experience in a lifetime.
Do you have any pre-competition rituals? If yes, what are they?
My pre-competition rituals include analyzing my opponents the night before the competition and I prepare myself for my fights, or at least my first and second round fights of my competition. The morning before my competition I listen to one song that I usually listen to before competition.
How do you prepare yourself mentally before a fight?
I’m not really stressed out or afraid before my fights, so it’s not so hard for me. I try to stay confident and believe in myself. I just go and tell myself “do your best”, and I don’t put pressure on myself. That’s my key to success.
You and Tina Trstenjak were very close in world ranking, and at times you even outranked her- how did you feel about her being chosen instead of you for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics?
I have very good competition here in Slovenia, yes, Tina Trstenjak is a very wonderful person and very successful Judoka. Last year we had a rule that whoever is higher on the World Ranking List would qualify for the Olympics. At the time of choosing, Tina was ranked higher than me.
I tried my best to maybe get the chance to go, but in the end Tina deserved it and also made something out of it- she won the silver medal, which is amazing, and I’m really happy for her. Of course, I was a little bit sad and angry at myself that I didn’t get the chance, as I would deserve it too. But I will keep going and hopefully make it to the next Olympic cycle.
What are your goals for the upcoming Olympic cycle?
In the next Olympic cycle I will try to maintain my points and my ranking position, so that I can start the qualification high. After that, I will try not to get injured. I will also try to get another European medal, Masters medal and World medal- this is my main goal for this year and every year until the Olympics. Also, an Olympic medal is some kind of goal for me- so I will go for it!
- How do you feel about the Paris 2024 Olympics? Do you see yourself competing there?
I definitely see myself competing in Paris at the 2024 Olympics. I know it’s going to be tough, and I will have to do the hard work again. But I really want to get a chance so I will try my best. It’s also very soon, the qualification starts in a few months so it’s actually a big deal already. I will try to stay calm and focused and just do what I did last year, and hopefully it will bring me closer to the chance of competing at the Olympics and potentially something more.
Anastasia-Alexandra Nenova interview with Andreja Leski for Sports Star.
Athlete Andreja Leski, -63kg Half Middleweight Judoka representing Slovenia.
Interviewed by Anastasia-Alexandra Nenova