Vegan Ju-Jitsu fighter Sofia Jokl has previously taken the world title among her international honours.
Covid disruptions then childbirth means the last few years have been unusual, and the Swiss fighter recently announced her retirement.
However, that too was subject to late changes when she had a late opportunity to compete in the World Games. The Games is the world’s biggest event for non-Olympic sports and gave Sofia a chance to team up with her partner Tom Schonenberger one last time in the Duo-System.
Showing defences to defined attacks, the event is judged for technique, speed and realism.
They were drawn against current European and World Champions Germany first, and won to progress to the next round. Progress was stopped after being beaten by Belgium, which left a Bronze medal match against the Germans again.
They managed to repeat and take the win.
“It is incredible!” Sofia told Great Vegan Athletes afterwards. “We got a call three and a half weeks before The World Games and were asked if we wanted to replace a team that couldn’t get a visa for the U.S.”
“Only the four best teams are qualified directly and two wildcards are distributed. Even with a third place at the World Championship in November 2021 in Abu Dhabi we didn’t make the cut for a direct qualification for The World Games.”
After missing the European Championship in July 2021 having just given birth, the team had actually stopped training.
“We got great support from so many people (coaches, team mates, mental trainer, physiotherapist and osteopath). The good thing was: we were 100% open minded and didn’t have anything to prove. Just go and have fun and try our best. That’s what we did – I think I’ve never enjoyed a competition as much as this very, very last one. The emotions were overwhelming – I cried a lot, especially on the podium…it felt as if my entire career as an athlete with all its wins and defeats were coming together in this very moment. It was a bittersweet goodbye.”
Sofia reflects back on a career and recent challenges, and we sense some pride in doing it as a vegan.
“I kept my vegan diet and never had any issues. I felt energetic and strong, sometimes struggled to get enough calories – therefore nuts and nut butter became my best friends!
Now in summer of course lots of fresh veggies and fruits and as often as possible legumes.”
Sofia is emphatic that this medal is from the last competition and she will not return to the mat. She moves on having taken two world titles and a European title, and she’s clearly enjoyed the experience.
We congratulate her on a successful and inspiring career in her sport and wish her the very best for motherhood and all future challenges.