Nina started Judo in 1992 as a hyperactive child with parents quibbling as to what to do with her. Her parents turned towards Judo as a potential solution. Nina was a self proclaimed “muscle head” when she started judo and just used her raw strength, however once she met her current coach Jim Hrbek, technique started to kick in.
Nina is a unique judoka because she has 50 % bilateral hearing loss. This is highly unusual and yet she has hearing aids to help her during her day to day life. However she cannot wear them on the mat to train nor can she compete with them. Nina “ has to rely on hand signals and loud key words from coaches” as she cannot hear and “process complicated instructions while fighting.”
On the training side of her career Nina is extremely diligent and professes to “ never miss training, no matter what”. Nina does daily training before the competition to prepare her body for the competition.Two weeks away from a competition she does two a days which is a rigorous training regime that mentally and physically puts an athlete to the test. On the day of the competition she wakes up early and has a nice cold shower to wake her up. Following this, Nina likes to have a light breakfast of toast and yoghurt but she does also pack lots of small snacks that keep her going during the day. Those small snacks include fruits and small sandwiches. At the venue Nina prepares herself by taping her ankles, tying her hair and doing some stretches. At the age of 31, Nina has to make sure she is physically warmed up and ready before her first fight. She does plenty of cartwheels and judo mat stances so that she isn’t tight.
One of the judoka Nina admires is Teddy Riner who is an eight time heavyweight world champion from France, a proverbial giant and impressive specimen. Lucie Decosse who is a former Olympic Champion is also one of Nina’s judo idols. These two champions have according to Nina a “beautiful technique made better with their impressive physical strength” and to Nina that is the best kind of judo.
Crowdfunding has helped Nina get the word out for some assistance and has been amazing for her. Nina usually fundraises through clinics and seminars and it got the word out fast and people responded kindly and generously. As a result she is able to get to selection events that she really needs to go to. Nina is full of praise for the amazing support staff at MAKEACHAMP because “they respond so quickly to questions and are full of resources”. One of the tips that Nina has regarding a successful crowdfunding campaign is to show videos and pictures and not just ask for money. One has to give back to the community that is helping you by giving things as rewards, like autographs.
On a more relaxed note, Nina does enjoy her free team even though it is squished between her full time training and work. However, she does enjoy swimming in the pool or watching movie. Nina enjoys watching French movies as it allows her to practice her French. Modern Family is one of her favourite TV shows as it matches her blended family especially with her French in laws. Sherlock is the other favourite tv show because she read the books and the TV series puts a modern spin on the story. On the musical side, Nina listens to the Decembrists because of their story telling lyrics. Food wise, Nina is a self proclaimed gastronomical heavyweight and does enjoy exploring her sweet side with cake and cookies even though she is greatly limited with her diet. She does enjoy a good Texas steak with any vegetable as she likes them all. The only foods she dislikes are salmon and lamb.
Check out her MAKEACHAMP page here: https://makeachamp.com/ninacutrokelly/
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