Today the IJF Judo Awardees for 2022 were announced after period of voting between the 12th and 31st of January. These awards recognised eight categories including Female and Male judoka of the year, as well as the rising stars, moment of the year and the most colossal ippons. Aside from action on the tatami, there were multiple nominees for Judo for Peace, Judo for Children and coaching achievement.
IJF General Director, Vlad Marinescu opened the awarding ceremony,
Welcome to the Judo Awards for the 2022 Season. After the success of the Judo awards the last 2 years, this year we are bring the awards live to the Paris Grand Slam! This afternoon we will crown 8 new winners, that have been voted on by you, the judo family. Thank you all for all of your votes and participation.
IJF Events Director, Dr Lisa Allan was first up to present the Coaching Achievement of the Year Award to Lasha Gujejiani of Georgia, the head coach currently leading a very successful team including three world ranking leaders.
Next was the Rising Star award and with the likes of Yelyzaveta Lytvynenko (UKR) and Guilherme Schimidt (BRA) in the running it was an understandably close contest but in the end, IJF General Treasurer Mr Naser Al Tamimi presented the award to Assunta Scutto (ITA). Scutto won the bronze medal in the senior world championships in Tashkent and has gone from strength to strength in the -48kg and now she is rightly being celebrated as the new generation of supreme talent.
EJU President and IJF Vice President Dr Laszlo Toth was next to present the Judo for Children award, explaining that this recognises the incredible projects going on all over the globe, aimed at getting the next generation of judoka involved in this amazing sport. The projects in Slovenia, Hungary, Israel and the Netherlands all taken in to consideration, it was a tough decision but in the end, the winners were Italy for their contribution to judo in schools. Accepting the award was former athlete, Andrea Regis.
Though we recognise the action on the tatami, the athletes, the coaches and delegations, the next award focuses on how the values are instilled in to our wider judo community and how the education is a major tool and principle of this sport. Presenting this award was Mr Nicolas Messner, IJF Judo For Peace Director, and there were many deserving projects including Forever Everest, but the award was received by Vertynskyi Kyrylo from Judo Club Weisbaden as a result of work with Ukrainian children.
An exciting award, the World Judo Tour Ippon of the Year was awarded to Beka Gvinashvili of Georgia following a stunning performance in the Hungary Grand Slam 2022 and was presented by Mr Jean-Luc Rouge, IJF General Secretary. Gviniashvili is not a one-trick pony either, known for his tremendous strength and incredible throwing abilities, it is not such a surprise that he was recognised for this moment.
Unfortunately the next awardee couldn’t be present in Paris for the ceremony but expressed her gratitude via video. Mr. Uemura Haruki IJF EC Member & Kodokan President announced the winner of the Female Athlete of the Year and was delighted to award Abe Uta (JPN) with this prestigious recognition. The younger of the Abe siblings became Olympic champion in Tokyo and she has been a driving, competitive force in the -52kg category for some time now.
As for the Male Athlete of the Year, it will possibly come as little surprise that the victor was Tato Grigalashvili (GEO) and was awarded by Mr Yamashita Yasuhiro, IJF EC Member, AJJF President, and IOC Member. It just so happens that this award tied in nicely with the next.
For the grand finale, the President of the IJF, Mr Marius Vizer prepared to recognise the greatest moment in 2022 that ignited the heart of the judo family, moments not just based on sporting performance, but on the values that make the sport so special.
In this case it was given for Grigalashvili and Matthias Casse. The pair have become a highlight for the judo tour, the head to head everyone looks forward to as we know it will be dynamic, intelligent and purely entertaining. This is what the sport is all about and the respect that the athletes have for one another.
We would like to congratulate all of the awardees and are proud that European representatives are among those that have been praised for their spirit, attitude, hard work and judo values.
Author: Thea Cowen