November 27 - Judo fans in Abu Dhabi were treated to three days of extra tatami action following the Grand Prix event as older competitors rolled back the years during the fifth World Veterans Championship at the ADNEC Exhibition Centre.
Just under 700 competitors from 56 countries took part in the event which saw male and female judoka ranging from 30 to 84-years-old take to the mat.
Andrei Bondor, chairman of the International Judo Federation (IJF) Veterans Commission, hailed the event as a big success.
"We never had so much participating countries," he said.
"We had a little bit less competitors than during the past editions because usually the host country provides more than 200 fighters.
"In Abu Dhabi, the veterans are not so developed yet, but I am sure that this World Championships will help to increase the popularity of judo within the older generations in the country and this is very positive.
"This is important.
"It illustrates the respect that is part of the DNA of our sport.
"It's a strong message to the society, saying that you can practice judo until no age.
"The oldest competitors here were 84-years-old.
"Beyond everything, it is a strong symbol that judo is an activity that fits to every age [category]."
Day one saw the five women's categories contested along with the oldest men's competitions while days two and three saw the men's one to five categories settled with judoka from Russia dominating the medal tables.
As well as giving retired judoka the opportunity to compete in a relatively competitive environment, the Championships provide all involved with a chance to meet-up and remain a part of the judo family, according to Bondor.
The Veterans Commission was set-up by IJF President Marius Vizer 10 years ago while he was President of the European Judo Federation (EJF) and the Championships have been staged in Germany twice, Hungary and last year in Miami.
Vizer paid a visit to Abu Dhabi to meet with some of the veterans during the Championships.
In addition regional championships have been organised and this year saw more than 40 National Federations stage National Championships.
Next year the World Judo Veterans Championship will be staged in Marbella, Spain, alongside the Kata World Championships.
Bondor believes that staging the Championships right after a Grand Prix event provides an ideal opportunity for today's top judo stars and those from previous generations to come together and learn from each other.
"The fact that our championship was connected with the Grand Prix, gave the opportunity to the veterans to watch today's top level athletes," he said.
"They could also enjoy doing judo in the same venue, on the same tatami as Olympic champions."
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