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Olympian Defends Coach's Controversial Face Slap Before Competition

A German judo player made headlines for what she referred to as her chosen pre-competition ritual.

The Tokyo Olympics has been riddled with controversy before they even began, and most recently, the criticism turned to a male judo coach who shook and slapped a female athlete on the face before she entered the ring. Ahead of German judo player Martyna Trajdos' big face-off against Hungary on July 27, her coach, Claudiu Pusa, was captured shaking her by the collar and slapping her cheeks. Trajdos appeared unfazed, nodded, and stepped into the ring after the interaction, but the moment soon went viral with Pusa's approach facing serious criticism, including from judo officials. Trajdos, however, had a very different reaction. Read on to find out what the Olympian had to say about the slap heard 'round the world.

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The judo player on the receiving end of the slap defended her coach at the Olympics.


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A post shared by Martyna Trajdos (@martyna_trajdos)

Trajdos, 32, took to social media following Tuesday's competition to explain that her coach's approach is part of their pre-match ritual to help "fire [her] up."

She posted on her Instagram Story, according to Today, "This is what I asked my coach to do! So please don't blame him!!! I need this before my fights to be awake."

Unfortunately, she didn't win against Hungary's Szofi Özbas and joked about the slapping on Instagram later in a post that included the viral video. "Looks like this was not hard enough," she wrote, before acknowledging the pre-match prep with Pusa getting a lot of attention. "I wish I could have made a different headline today," she continued. "As I already said that's the ritual which I chose pre competition! My coach is just doing what I want him to do to fire me up!"

But the moment continued to cause controversy online.

Some defended Pusa and Trajdos, knowing that Trajdos chose the pre-competition ritual. Former world champion judo player Dennis van der Geest responded to Trajdos' Instagram saying, "Who cares what people think. We are doing a combat sport and if this helps you ?."

But others on Twitter called the approach "horrible and disturbing" and "awful and violent," as The New York Daily News reported.

In response to barrister and writer Rupert Myers in the U.K. posting the video with the caption, "Amazing pre-fight ritual of German judo competitor Martyna Trajdos and her coach," one Twitter user responded: "What a horrendous example to set for how men should treat women, especially given how many young sports fan watch the #Olympics hoping to one day be there themselves. This is televised violence, the only amazing thing about it is that it's permissible."

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The International Judo Federation issued the German coach "an official warning."

The International Judo Federation (IJF) released a statement on Twitter on July 28, saying Pusa's approach "goes against the judo moral code" and issuing him an "official warning and ultimatum," the Associated Press reported.

"The IJF addressed a serious official warning towards the German coach, concerning the bad behaviour he showed during the competition," the statement read. "Judo is an educational sport and as such cannot tolerate such behaviour, which goes against the judo moral code. #respect"

Pusa has yet to address the criticism.

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Trajdos said she was ultimately disappointed in her performance at the Games.


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A post shared by Martyna Trajdos (@martyna_trajdos)

On Friday, Trajdos posted another Instagram, saying she was "super disappointed" by her performance at the Olympics ultimately. "I wanted to present the best version of myself, to recompense all the hard work, pain and tears which were put into it," she wrote. "I don't have any excuses, I'm just very sad and disappointed, those scars will stay."

Trajdos had one more shot at an Olympic medal on Saturday in the first mixed team judo event ever held at the Games. The German team earned bronze in the historic competition, according to Reuters.

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Jaimie Etkin
Jaimie is the Editor-in-Chief of Best Life. Read more
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