Interview for Designer Magazine Stockholm with Tomas Johansson a Swedish wrestler from Haparanda, Olympic Vice-Champion and World Champion in Greco-Roman style in super heavyweight by Diana Kicia.
- BEFORE WRESTLING DID YOU TRAIN OTHER SPORTS, IF YES WHAT WAS THAT?
I was 9 years when I started wrestling. One day when I trained some ice-skates it was -30 degrees and we went to a place to warm us up then we realized that it was a wrestling club. There was one lead Olle Björkén who asked me if I would like to train in wrestling. So I started the next day and enjoyed it. I met new friends too. We were quite many there. Haparanda was quite big within wrestling and bandy.
- WHAT DOES SPORT MEAN FOR YOU?
It is very important. People need to do sport, everyone should move and do some sports in some way but to become an elite sportsman it requires a lot.
- WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FOR YOU IN LIFE?
The most important are the health, my family and friends especially now in these difficult times during pandemic.
- HOW IS THE LIFE IN HAPARANDA? LIFE CONDITIONS, WEATHER?
Today it’s -22 degrees outside, but actually, it does not feel so cold, it’s not windy. If you have good clothes, then it is fine. Last week we had quite a lot of snow so it was quite a lot of work with snow removal.
Haparanda has very good locals for sports, it is a little town with 10 000 inhabitants close to the Finnish border. We have a good condition for sport. Haparanda is a sports city.
- WE KNOW THAT YOU HAVE BEEN IN POLAND MANY TIMES AND MET OUR KNOWN POLISH WRESTLERS LIKE ŚWIERAD, SUPRON, SKRZESIŃSKI. WHY DID YOU LIKE TO TRAIN WITH POLISH WRESTLERS?
We had a Polish wrestler here in our club in Haparanda and we got the opportunity to travel to Poland. We had difficulty with sparring for our weight category. Then they said that Poland had few. So we needed sparring partners. It was exciting when we went to Poland for the first time they were nice to me trainer Janusz Kosiński, Andrzej Supron, Andrzej Wroński who was then younger than me. It was interesting to observe his development and we became very good friends. So I continued my travels and camps there.
- WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THEM, AND WHAT THEY COULD LEARN FROM YOU?
In Poland we had camps which took 3 weeks, we have never had it in Sweden. We had shorter training camps and I felt it was not enough. I got many new friends in Poland within wrestling and they took care of me very well. So sometimes during the competition, I felt more belong to this Polish team than to the Swedish team.
- HOW DO YOU REMEMBER POLAND, SOME SPECIAL EPISODE?
We had a camp in Zakopane. We were a few heavyweight 130 kg wrestlers, we needed to run on the mountains, and it was slippery. I’m afraid of heights and fell then Polish wrestlers joked that I should be careful as we were close to the Czech Republic border and do not know the language there in case border control would come to speak with me.
Another episode was at the camp in Cetniewo. I did not have a cell phone there so I ordered the call to my home and was waiting in my room. Then after I came back home to Sweden we received a call from Cetniewo that Tomas Johansson would like to come home earlier.
- DO YOU STILL TRAVEL THERE?
Yes, I travel to Poland sometimes.
- DID YOU HAVE A POSSIBILITY TO TRAIN WITH ALEKSANDR KARELIN IN RUSSIA TOO?
I was on camps in Russia but I could not train in Russia with Aleksandr Karelin, he used to come to us to Haparanda and Gothenburg.
- WHO IS YOUR BIGGEST IDOL?
When I was younger the biggest Idol was our Swedish wrestler and Olympic champion Frank Andersson who just died. He was an idol for many teens in Sweden. Internationally Andrzej Supron, it was very interesting to watch his wrestling, there were many actions on the mat, he was fast. All countries had someone who was an idol then.
- WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?
Yes, it was when I did not have opponents, so then in Poland, I could find a sparring partner. Also when some rules in wrestling have changed I did not have here opponent in my category, it was difficult. So I appreciate I could train in Poland. I was fast, my strengths were acrobatics and gymnastics.
It was difficult times when Aleksandr Karelin appeared in this international arena. Every time I would meet him in the fight I tried to do my best but I lost.
- SPORT REQUIRES A LOT OF PHYSICAL AND MENTAL TRAINING. HOW DID YOU MANAGE THIS SECOND PART?
Mentally I am quite strong to prepare myself to load before the match. I was often better in the competition than on the training which is the opposite as many handle easier training than the competition. I enjoyed the competition so I was successful with that part.
- DO YOU CONTINUE WITH WRESTLING NOWADAYS, DO YOU WORK AS A TRAINER?
Yes, I support our Haparanda SKT wrestling club sometimes. We use to organize a big competition Cup Haparanda then many European and World countries visit us.
- IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD?
I am thinking sometimes how big hearts Polish had to have me there. It was not easy to come there and I was very lucky that I could train with them and got friends for the rest of my life. I appreciate it.
I hope the corona crisis will get over and we will be back in normal life, to move, to meet our friends. The sport was on hold somehow. I work at school so I have students who want to do wrestling during the pauses outside the school as they can’t wait when they will be allowed to train.
Congratulations Tomas Johansson, thank you very much for your interview by Diana Kicia for the DESIGNER magazine. All The best from our team!