Qingdao – China, Nov 2, 2013: An enthusiastic and excited group of children took part in the ‘Judo Educational Journey Through China’ launched earlier today by the IJF in cooperation with the Chinese Judo Association with the support of the Olympic Solidarity and the Chinese National Olympic Committee.
A host of stars of Chinese judo turned out to participate in the launch and were swamped by an army of media representatives both local and national who had turned up to record the event.
Pride of place was given to double Olympic champion Xian Dongmei, whose tiny stature belied her huge achievements. Alongside and towering over her stood 2008 Olympic champion Tong Wen who was matched in presence by local hero Yu Song. Leading the contact between these high performance athletes and young children was 2004 Olympic silver medalist Li Xia who along with Li Shufang demonstrated considerable skill at managing the young and energetic group.
The IJF Media Director Nicolas Messner spoke warmly to the youngsters about various aspects of the programme before introducing IJF Education Director Mohamed Meridja who gave greetings to the participants on behalf of IJF president Mr. Marius Vizer.
Mr. Vizer stated in his speech that: “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 an attempt to consolidate our sport in the Chinese sporting landscape, the IJF will meet institutions and leaders, and thus contribute to spread Judo in China.
In 2013 and 2014 the Judo Journey will visit 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.
I would like to thank the Chinese Judo Association and the Chinese Olympic Committee for organizing this activity and for all the efforts made for the success of Judo. Tomorrow’s Olympic champions might be among the children who will participate in this activity.”
In the welcome address given on behalf of the Qingdao Judo Association by Mr. Chen You Xin, president, said how delighted and proud he was to have the Tour begin in his city. Xiong Feng Shan, General Secretary of the Chinese Judo Association (CJA) praised the strong relationship between the IJF and the CJA and said that he hoped very much that the tour would help to boost the awareness of the sport among the general public.
The Tour was officially declared open by the president of the Chinese literature Federation Wan Bo Ao who invited the children to have fun, smile and enjoy the special learning experience offered by judo. There followed a warm-up, games and short randori session led by Mr. Meridja with the stars that was enjoyed greatly by all the youngsters taking part.
During the afternoon session, the IJF and CJA delegation visited the 39th school of Qingdao and had an outstanding experience sharing the judo values with 200 pupils and their teachers. Nicolas Messner made a presentation about the history, the etiquette and the moral code of judo before giving the floor to the Chinese champions, who were interviewed by the 15 year old participants. Very enthusiastic for having the possibility to directly talk to their national heroes, the young spectators went back home full of news dreams.
The Tour moves next to Zibo Hengtai and continues in China (Binzhou, Shandong, Jinan, Tianjin, and Beijing) until 10 November. —- By Sheldon Franco-Rooks/Photo © IJF Media