“It was a hard time for me. I had never been out of sports for that long. I couldn’t wait to go back to the mats after almost one year out, I really missed them.”
Double Paralympic bronze medallist Dartanyon Crockett is back in training and hoping to reclaim his place as one of the world’s best judokas after nine months away from the mats due to a shoulder injury he suffered at the German Judo Open in Heidelberg last year.
“It was a hard time for me. I had never been out of sports for that long. I couldn’t wait to go back to the mats after almost one year out, I really missed them,” the 26-year-old said.
Following an intense and long recovery treatment, Crockett has committed himself to return to his best possible shape and gain confidence. However, he admits there is still a long way to go until he feels competitive once again.
“I cannot say my shoulder is fully recovered, it’s still weak but I am doing my best to compete the way I was doing two years ago.”
In 2016, Crockett finished third at the Rio Paralympics. He defeated Uzbekistan’s Shukhrat Boboev before losing to Georgia’s then Paralympic gold medallist Zviad Gogotchuri in the semi-finals.
The US judoka recovered quickly to beat Great Britain’s two-time Paralympic medallist Samuel Ingram and claim his second bronze over two Paralympic Games.
This year’s main goal for Crockett is staying healthy in order to feel competitive for the major events such as the 2018 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Judo World Championships in Lisbon, Portugal, between 16 and 18 November.
Before that, there are several events he also plans to take part in. “This year I want to participate in all the possible events. The more I compete, the faster I will get to my level,” he said.
“There are many countries that have been working really well with blind sports, especially in judo. New judokas are coming out and competing at the highest level.
“This year I will test myself with some of the toughest athletes with hopes to be victorious. I have combatted with some of them at previous World Championships and Paralympic Games, and I’m sure I will face some of the new judokas. I need to be ready for these challenges.
“I believe the skills I can acquire on the mat can be translated to my everyday life. I compete not just to be the best judoka, but to be the best person for my family and community.”
The 2018 IBSA Judo World Championships will take place in Lisbon, Portugal, from 16-18 November.