THE SPRINGBOARD TO THE FUTURE
There is no doubt that the Junior World Championships that are about to open in Marrakech, Morocco, and whose official draw was held on Tuesday, October 15, are a springboard to the future.
For the 517 competitors (294 men and 223 women), from 81 countries on five continents, everything is in place to allow them to compete in a real world championship, with all the markers of a great international competition: the competition hall decorated like any event of the World Judo Tour and according to world standards, a millimeter organization, the best referees in the world … All accompanied by the stress and tension of a competition of this level.
Just prior to the draw, Florin Daniel Lascau, IJF sport director, explained: “The competition which is about to take place in Morocco is an important and major milestone for the athletes that, for sure, we will see on the international scene in the years to come. A few weeks ago, we had the Cadet World Championships. This was already a very interesting event. In the cadet division, you can win a medal because you are very talented. In the Juniors, you need to be talented, but you also need to work very hard to reach the top level.
“We have many examples of Cadets and Junior World medallists, who later on in their career, became world and Olympic medallists. I am convinced that among the athletes who will compete in Marrakech, we are building the generation for the Paris 2024 Games.“
Armen Bagdasarov, IJF sport director, who was in charge of the technical aspects of the draw, added: “Those younger age categories are crucial for the athletes to build their mental and psychological capacities to face future challenges. Of course winning a medal here in Marrakech will be very important, but this is only the beginning of the way to the top level. We have examples of competitors, who didn’t necessarily win a gold medal at the cadet and junior world championships, but later on they were among the top level athletes. They definitely used those competition to get ready for the future.”
During his welcome speech, the President of the Moroccan Judo Federation, Dr. Chafik El Kettani, said: “It is a great pleasure to welcome you in Morocco on the occasion of this edition of the Junior World Championships, organized under the patronage and with the personal support of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, to whom we express our gratitude.”
“Africa and the Kingdom of Morocco, which is a country of tolerance and peace, are proud and honored to host so many athletes from so many different countries in the mythic city of Marrakech, one of the greatest historical capitals of the north of Africa and in the Mediterranean region.”
“This is the second time that Morocco hosts a junior World Championships. The first time was in Agadir in 2010 and this was made possible thanks to the support of the IJF President, Marius Vizer, who since the beginning, has been committed to the universality of judo and the development of our sport all over the world and especially in Africa. This is what Judo for the World means.“
Many coaches who are present with their delegation in Marrakech, are regulars of the world circuit, but there are also new faces who, in the same way as their athletes, discover a major event of the planet judo. Juan Carlos Barcos, IJF Head refereeing director explained to all of them: “What is very important is that we all show respect to our values and philosophy. We are role models for the young athletes who participate in this event, and we need to show that judo is much more than just a sport. I am convinced that those world championships will be amazing.“
For five days (4 days of individual competitions followed by the mixed team tournament), the world’s best juniors will meet on Moroccan tatami. Some will leave covered with new laurels, others will return home with the experience of high level competition. Whatever the outcome will be, as a springboard to the future, these world championships are already full of promise.