8 June 2023


European Judo Championships Veterans


Valentins AZAROVS lives and trains in Riga, Latvia, precisely at Satori Judo Club. The veteran judoka competed today at the M9 -73kg category and finished 7th place. Although his age would put him into the M11 age group, due to lower entries around his age, he was merged with the younger group, nothing that would have set him or his passion away from the tatami. Born in 1942, makes Azarovs the eldest competitor at the European Judo Championships Veterans 2023. 

The 81-year-old judoka first trial himself on the judo mat at the age of 14… and never looked back. It was not until the age of 68 that he actually entered his first judo tournament, specifically the Veteran World Championships. Diving into deep water paid off for the Latvian veteran as he won his first medal and world title simultaneously.

That event remains my best memory of judo. I was shocked that I was able to win. I am regularly attending at these events since. I really enjoy competing, I love the whole process of preparation for a tournament and competing with friends. I know almost everyone around me, and I enjoy the atmosphere at these events.

In blue, Valentins AZAROVS (LAT). © Boris Teofanovic

Azarovs trains approximately 1,5hrs per day, mixed with judo and other fitness trainings. Whilst he is keeping rather fit for his age, former sambo player and acrobat, is solely dedicating his sporting passion to judo. During his active work life regime, Azarovs was an engineering constructor. He has retired from the working world for quiet sometimes but has no plans leaving the mat just yet. 

I am a retired man with a lot of free time. I don’t feel the same nor I see my life without judo. I want to motivate younger people too to continue with judo. I won 3 European gold medal and 4 world titles at the veterans and even if I am not on the podium, I still feel like a winner.

Author: Szandra Szogedi