China, Nov 13, 2013: For the first time in history the IJF and the Chinese Judo Association linked up to begin to unlock the vast potential of judo in the country by organising the first phase of the ‘Educational Judo Journey through China’ project following the Qingdao Grand Prix.
The 10-day tour (2-10 November) stopped in Qingdao, Zibo, Binzhou, Jinan, Tianjing and Beijing as the delegation covered more than 1,000km to stage 15 working sessions at schools, universities, clubs, training centres and public places.
With the support of the Olympic Solidarity and Chinese National Olympic Committee, more than 2,500 people participated in the different sessions. Young judoka from 4 to 22 years old shared the tatami with their heroes and national and local media were there every step of the way as the tour culminated at the Great Wall of China.
Prior to the tour, Mr. Vizer, the IJF President declared: “China is one of the most important countries in the world of Judo. With good results and many achievements, the Chinese champions have let an indelible mark in the world. The Judo Educational Journey through China is a joint initiative of the International Judo Federation and the Chinese Judo Association. The goal is to reach out to children and youth who are less familiar with our sport and introduce all the values of judo to them. In 2013 and 2014 the Judo Journey will visit more than 10 cities and will stop to say hello in Nanjing, before the Youth Olympic Games. By transmitting throughout the journey the Olympic values that go hand in hand with the Judo values and principle, the activity will contribute to the development of our sport, meanwhile enforcing the Olympic message.”
The Chinese Judo Association, who topped the medal table at their home Grand Prix with a 12-medal haul, were represented by a 15-strong group including decorated champions. Tong WEN, Olympic and world champion and XIAN Dongmei, two-time Olympic Champion, were among the star-laden Chinese roster along with YU Song, World Judo Masters 2013 gold medallist, and Olympic silver medallists LIU Xia, XU Lili and LI Shufang.
The International Judo Federation were represented by Mohamed MERIDJA, IJF Education and Coaching Director, Nicolas MESSNER, IJF Media Director and Ruben HOUKES, former world champion, Olympic bronze medallist and a member of the IJF Judo for Children Commission.
The tour focused on promoting judo and the sports values and the education values of judo which were emphasised in the school workshops. The practical sessions with the children were led by the IJF experts to show the potential of judo as an educational tool. Children were able to interact with champions and develop an understanding of the Olympic values ahead of the eagerly-anticipated Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing next year.
For many years, China has been focusing on success at the elite level and their star-studded delegation showed the fruits of their immense efforts. Sporting success is now just one of the many objectives of the Chinese Judo Association with their wider interests already accelerated by the visibility of the Qingdao Grand Prix which has been organised for the last five years in the Shandong province with great results.
Other provinces are also determined to develop judo and especially at the school level. The Association understands that having a wide base at the ground level will help the development of an even stronger sports policy.
Tong WEN, Olympic and World Champion: “The tour offered me the opportunity to discover a new dimension of my beloved sport. For many years, I have been focusing on the top level, but now I can see that judo is more than a sport, it is an educational tool and even if I have not put an end to my sporting career, I already see new opportunities for the future. I want to put my image at the service of the development of judo in China, but also in the world.”
Mr. XIONG Fengshan, General Secretary of the Chinese Judo Association: “The past 10 days have created an incredible envy to push judo forward and to develop all its dimensions. China has a great potential and we need to coordinate the sports and educational dimensions of judo. Thanks to the IJF, its President, Mr. Marius Vizer, and its experts, we have put a lot of energy to make this journey a great success. We can all be very proud. I would like also to thank the media which were present throughout the Educational Journey through China. We want to develop judo in China, and we want to help the development of its values worldwide.”
Mr. Mohamed Meridja, IJF Education and Coaching Commission, said: “Judo is more than a sport, it is an educational tool. I want to thank the Chinese Judo Association for its commitment to organise this incredible journey. I want to warmly thank the champions who dedicated the last 10 days to the promotion of important values, such as respect, friendship and honour. During 10 days, we also had the opportunity to promote the upcoming Youth Olympic Games, where sports and education are combined. Thanks to the Olympic Movement, this journey was made possible.”
Mr. Ruben Houkes, IJF Judo for Children Commission, said: “I was a champion on the tatami, but I felt at the end of my career that I had to give back all that I previously learned. With the Journey through China, we had the possibility to meet fantastic people who are keen to develop all the dimensions of our sport. We have emphasised that sports and education go together. The champions are role models for the youth, and the more we have new judo participants, the more we will have great champions. But ultimately, what is important, is that all the young judoka will learn skills for life and that they will be able to use every day to become better citizens.
“The potential of the judo in China is enormous. You can see it and feel it. However, there is work to do. The tour has shown me that the energy of the Chinese federation to develop judo as a mass participation sport is great. The development will take time. Step by step. The support of the top athletes is great and they also want do help. I think that is very important. We need the support, the effort, the popularity of the athletes. They are the role models. Not only for medals and success. But especially for the skills for life that judo brought to them.”
Mr. Nicolas Messner, IJF Media Director: “The Chinese organisation was perfect. Everything ran smoothly. The atmosphere between all the participants and the actors of the journey was excellent from the first day on, until the last day. On the occasion of this last day of the journey, we went to the Chinese Great Wall, and this was an incredible moment for everybody. The reaction of the public was excellent.”
The second phase of the ‘Educational Judo Journey’ through China will take place in 2014 in the framework of the Youth Olympic Games. Six cities were visited this year. New cities will be targeted in 2014, with the final stage already confirmed as Nanjing where the Youth Olympic Games will be held. —- IJF/Photo © IJF Media