VETERANS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – THE JUDO SPIRIT NEVER DIES

Published on September 29, 2014

The general impression of Andrei Bondor is very positive: « My first feeling is that the competitors arrived here on holiday and after the competition they could enjoy the sun and the spanish food. This is the spirit of this event. It’s a competition, a real event, but our competitors can also relax and have good time. »

From an organization point of view, Mr. Bondor was very satisfied as well: « The accreditation system was very effective. For the first time, we managed to organize the weigh-in first, and then based on an electronic queue management system, the athletes had the time to come back for accreditation. The sports hall set up also gave to all participants and organizers the feeling that they were taking part in a real world championship because all IJF standards were respected. »
Actually the Veterans world championship represents a lot and for the competitors it means one year of hard training. For the IJF it is an important confirmation that the judo spirit does not die with the age. Once again in Spain, the number of participants was very high and continues to grow all over the world. « The veterans is a community which gathers together to share its experience and dedication to judo » said Mr. Bondor.
The Great Goals of the Veterans
To the question, what are the participants looking for, Mr. Bondor explained: « They are looking for a small holiday together with good friends and families. All of them have a job, which might have no relation with judo. But they are also looking for a big event that concludes a one-year training. Thus, they are looking for medals and to be proud of their national anthem and flag like any other competitor. But by participating, they are also remembering that they are young and capable of achieving great goals. »
As the Veterans world championship is a real competition, the athletes show a double personality: once on the tatami, they fight for a medal, for a good result, with no compromise but very respectful. Once off the tatami, they simply enjoy spending time together and they remember the old times: « This year, the friendship between the 56 delegations was at its top. »
The IJF send 4 people from the IT team to run the competition. One extra person was in charge of the life streaming and 5 IJF members supervised the accreditation and the running of the competition. All together 32 referees from all continents were invited.
A Real Judo Festival
The Veterans world championship can really be seen as a huge judo festival: « When you spend 1500 euros to travel to Spain, in a nice place, sometimes with your family, you want to have great competition time but good celebration with friends as well », said Andrei Bondor, before adding: « You don’t spend money just to be 30 seconds on the tatami. And having 56 nations for several days, sharing experience and souvenirs, I call it a judo festival, especially because everyday I saw 1,500 happy faces. »
In the upcoming years, the event will grow bigger. Only four out of five continents organize continental events (except Africa). The world championship travels from one continent to the other and the organizational quality has reached the IJF standard of any competition of the circuit. « We are now working on ‘Judo and Family training camps’ » explained Mr. Bondor, « and we are helping the national federations to organize national events. This year, we had 64 national or local events. »
Today the procedure to participate in the Veterans World Championship is simple. Participants must be member of a national federation or a club, but the system is flexible enough to allow competitors based on « I want to compete » and a passport. Most of the participants are really skillful judoka with a very high level of training. Even if the athletes come to have a good time with friends, they are real competitors and the time where people came only to participate is over. They want to win and, as a consequence, the competition becomes stronger and stronger every year. It is not unusual to see former great champions participating in the competition.
A Strong Social Network
Mr. Bondor also underlined the snowball effect of the social media: « Today every competitor has a smart phone. Immediately after the draw, we know that several thousands of people downloaded them from Internet. During the four days of competition, we gathered more than 20,000 visitors from 111 countries on our website and the Facebook page was visited by almost 35,000 fans. Thousands of pictures were taken by all participants and shared on the social Networks. This ‘virtual promotion’ is very powerful. »
« For next year we will try to introduce registration by nation and not individual registration » concluded the Veterans Commission Director, « The federations want to have a better control over the participant’s background and for us it will be much easier to manage 56 delegations than 1,500 individuals. »
The Veterans World Championships in facts
  • 1.519 persons (competitors, coach, officials) were registered.
  • Together with the Kata World Championship, more than 2,000 judoka came to Malaga, Spain.
  • 52 countries and more than 1250 competitors took part.
  • Every day more than 400 athletes were competing.
  • 5 tatamis were used and the IJF standards were applied.
  • Mr. Juan Carlos Barcos, President of the Spanish Judo Federation was present everyday and insure a perfect and smooth running of the event. During the opening ceremony, Mr. Barcos received a painted portrait from Mr. Andor Paposi (USA) which is a judo player of 82 years of age and a great painter too.
  • All participants who didn’t have opponents in their weight and age class were allowed to compete in an other category and received a special IJF participation medal for that.
  • The event was filmed by the Ijf TV team and a special film dedicated to the event will be released soon.