This years Paris tournament was very different for me. I decided to take some young judo players from the club, this was their first major tournament and I think this is as good a place as any to introduce them to major tournaments.
We set off very early Saturday morning so that we would only have to pay for the hotel for one night. One of the parents who came with me speaks French and had booked a taxi to meet us at the airport, this cost €75 so I wouldn’t have paid it if I was by myself but it would have cost similar to get all five of us there by train.
When we got to the stadium the first person I saw who I knew was Nuno Delgado, he now works for the EJU on social inclusion in judo, there is a website – www.achievecollectgiveback.com that outlines this project. Personally I think it is great to see such a competitive player focussing on such a project.
We managed to get tickets with ease and the first fight we saw was Gemma Howell against a girl from the Netherlands. Unfortunately Great Britain only had three players in this competition and none of them progressed, pretty poor really.
That didn’t stop the razzmatazz of the event though. It was lively both days but especially Sunday as Lucie Ducosse and Teddy Riner Fought. Personally I wanted to see Georgii Zantaraia (UKR) as he has been amazing in Tokyo at the world championships. He didn’t disappoint here but was strangled unconscious in the semi-finals.
I think the trip was a success, my young players got to meet Cuban coach Ronaldo, Greek judo legend Illias Illiadis and Henk Grol, who was fantastic with the children and let them wear his medal.
I would like to say a big thank you to two particular people, Abbas Salihu who competes for Nigeria and is a member of the British Army. He made it possible for the children to meet so many athletes they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to meet. Also Nicolas Anolinos, who used to train with us at Anglia Ruskin Judo Club and is now living at home in Paris, he was very supportive during this trip.