The judo community is strong, but it can really be felt here in Hungary. The Gyor European Open is the debut event for the European Tour in 2024 and the first Olympic qualifier in our calendar, it is somewhat appropriate that it is held in the country of our President, Dr TOTH Laszlo who is also president of the Hungarian Judo Association. Along with the leaders of the federation and union, the stands of the Audi Arena quickly filled with current and former athletes from the Hungarian team, as well as judo fans as we are a short distance from the capital of Budapest. This is in fact the second time already that Gyor has hosted a judo event in 2024 following the IJF Referee and Coaching Seminar, but this time the action is a little different.
Not only home nation, but home city of President Toth, Gyor received recognition for their commitment to the sport, with the European Judo City award, lead by Mayor, Dr. DEZSI Csaba András. As it happens, Mayor and President Toth can regale with tales of their time as young judoka and celebrate a friendship of over fifty years, and joining the party on day one of the Gyor European Open was KOVACS Janos, who presides over 16 different sports for Gyor, including his beloved judo. It is very easy for the three gentlemen to slip in to their roles as judo fans as they oversee their young countrymen and women, many of whom will be shooting for the stars and looking at Olympic chances in Los Angeles 2028 or even Brisbane in 2032.
This is a really unbelievable situation, so unique as the Mayor is my friend of 50 years, former judo champion, famous cardiologist, Vice President of Hungarian judo. He is very active in this city, in 2002, the first event for Gyor was the cadet European championships and in the warm up area was the competition. We try to have these special competitions but this year, for the city of Gyor, they deserve this award.
Yesterday was a special dinner, old friends coming together with our staff and it was so nostalgic for me, I am just so proud, not just how it has developed in Hungary but now in Gyor too. We have grown step by step and now I can declare it is the most popular martial art in Hungary. Not only because it is an Olympic sport but our values make us unique. The support from the Kodokan will only help us grow.
Author: Thea Cowen