European Judo heroes inducted into IJF Hall of Fame

EJU Vice President Michal Vachun awarded with IJF gold medal
The first IJF Hall of Fame Gala took place on Sunday as the judo family was united to celebrate the careers of some of the sport’s most illustrious names. IOC Executive member, and judoka from the past, Patrick Hickey said: “I’m humbled to be here and with so many legends. I’m proud to be in such special company.
I a missing a very dear friend in this room and that is Anton Geesink. I took up judo because of him. After 1964 our careers mingled and we were good friends. I’m so pleased his family could be here. I thank you all for this wonderful award.” Patrick Hickey was the first inductee of evening. Ingrid Berghmans became the first woman to enter the IJF Hall of Fame as she was inducted by Carlos Nuzman, Brazilian Olympic Committee President, who said “I’m delighted to be here. I congratulate judo for their work and I have a great honour in giving this award.” Berghmans said: “I’m very proud and I’m very honoured to be the first woman to be in the Hall of Fame.” Legendary tenth Dan George Kerr was inducted by Kerrith Brown, British Judo Association Chairman, who said: “It’s an honour to present this award. George’s career has been quite incredible. He has done great things for judo and not just in Britain.” IJF General Secretary Jean-Luc Rouge was inducted by the IJF President. Another great French, David Douillet, who was inducted by Mr. Juan Carlos Barcos, IJF Head Referee Director, said: “I’m very proud to be here with my family. I thank our President for keeping the value of the judo family for the future, thank you very much.” Dutch Double Olympic Champion Willem Ruska was inducted by EJU Refereeing Director Jan Snijders who said: “I had the honour of training with Willem. He was a great champion. He can’t be here but his wife Elisabeth will accept the award.” Franco Capelletti was inducted by Marius L. Vizer who said: “Franco is a great man and it is my pleasure to make this award.”The Italian ninth Dan responded: “Judo is my life, I thank you very much and especially the IJF President.” Robert van de Walle was inducted by Naser Al Tamimi, IJF General Treasurer, who said: “I’m proud to be here to award to one of the greats of judo.” Van de Walle: “Today I can say I’ve had a fantastic life through judo, I’ve loved it. I’m very proud that I could make a difference in judo.” Russian Coach Ezio Gamba was inducted by EJU President Sergey Soloveychik who said: “Thank you for this opportunity. Ezio is a great person and a great coach. I thank him for the chance for judo to reach the highest level in Russia. It is my pleasure to make this presentation.” Gamba: “Ladies and gentlemen thank you, I don’t want to forget my family, thank you everyone.” Double Austria Olympic Champion Peter Seisenbacher was inducted by Vladimir Barta, IJF Head Sports Director, who said: “I give this prize to a fantastic judoka who has been prepared throughout his career by George Kerr.” The current coach of Azerbaijan said: “I thank everyone, I’ve had a lot of great times in this sport. Our President has changed the judo world and for that I thank Marius Vizer very much.” Olympic Champion in 1980 Thierry Rey was inducted but was unable to attend and so Jean-Luc Rouge collected the awards on his behalf. Neil Adams was inducted by Hedi Dhouib. Adams said: “I’m very proud to have my names among such judo royalty. Sometimes we need a vision and I think Marius Vizer had that. Judo is moving forward in the right direction. It has gone to another level and I’m proud to be part of the process. I think we all feel the same. We will endeavour to make it better and a truly international sport. I thank you Mr. Vizer for making it happen.” With the Hall of Fame inductions complete Vizer made a special IJF Gold Medal presentation to Michal Vachun, EJU Vice President in recognition of his immense contributions to the sport. Vachun said: “It is a great pleasure to be part of the judo family. I thank Sergey Soloveychik, EJU President, for taking me on board. In 2007 judo was at a crossroads and now we have taken the right direction thanks to Mr. Vizer.” Text by IJF Media Department Read the World Championships eBook: http://issuu.com/judophotos/docs/20131220_rio_judo_a4_hi-res1pgeflat

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