IJF Gabriela Sabau / International Judo Federation
One of the best evenings of the year for many is Christmas eve. Judo is less important at Christmas time but especially this year the feeling of being together with the closest family as much more isn’t possible in this year of crisis.
Some of our well-known athletes celebrate their birthday at Christmas eve such as 2001 World Champion Frédéric Demontfaucon who turned 47. He was 2000 Olympic bronze medallist in Sydney and won the Tournoi de Paris in 2000.
Another Frenchman, Patrick Vial turned 74 and he was 1976 Olympic bronze medallist in Montreal U70kg. He won bronze at the European Championships as well. Vial is from a real French judo family with other judo brothers. Patrick Vial was multiple French champion and won European titles with the French team and his club.
One of the best judoka from Uzbekistan is Yakhyo Imamov who turned 31. He won the Grand Slam Paris in 2013. It took two years after her booked his next success, victory at the Grand Prix Budapest. And competed at the 2012 London Olympics. Of course he won the IJF Grand Prix in Tashkent in his own country. Happy birthday!
We all know French judoka Madeleine Malonga who became World Champion in 2019 in the Budokan in Tokyo. At Christmas day she turns 27. She was European senior champion in 2018 and won medals in 2019 and 2020. She won the Grand Slam in Paris in 2019 and 2020 and medalled five times in Paris.
Belarussian judoka Aliaksandr Vakhaviak turns 33. He took various medals at Grand Prix level in Almaty, Tashkent and Tbilisi and he is multiple champion in Belarus. He took silver at the Sambo World Championships in 2013 in St. Petersburg.
Volodymyr Soroka (UKR) was number 1 of the IJF World Ranking for seniors U73kg in 2009. He will turn 37 on Friday.
Portuguese judoka Sergiu Oleinic will be 35. He won world level medals last decade and the Champions League with Sporting Clube Portugal Lisbon in 2018.
Did you realise many national championships were held at Christmas time? Israelian Championships, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Poland, Russia all held national championships in this period. Some other countries previously organised championships in the last week of the year such as Estonia, India and Georgia. We will have to wait until the new year for new international action. The first major event will be the IJF World Masters in Qatar with the top 36 of each category fighting for valuable qualification points and honour.
We can celebrate birthdays, we can mourn about the lost ones however we can always celebrate to be judoka. Judo is much more than our sport.
JudoInside closes the year as well, we wish you excellent days with some rest and peace and wishes you to charge the batteries for the Olympic year (sounds weird, isn’t it). Foremost health and a good spirit, don’t forget to watch all developments at JudoInside. We will surprise you soon.