Dutch judo great Mark Huizinga was the big draw on the second day of the International Judo Federation (IJF) Veteran World Championships with the Sydney 2000 gold medallist competing in the men’s under 90 kilograms class in Amsterdam.
Having retired following the Beijing Olympics, Huizinga was marking his return to the tatami by participating in the 40 to 44-year-old age group event and he showed that he still had the skills which made him an Olympic champion by reaching the final of the 30-man competition.
The five-time European champion then added the veterans gold to his vast medal collection as he scored with an ippon against Spain’s Udoka Ikeme Mbledogu, while Brazil’s Denison Soldani Santos and Hungary’s Krisztian Tolgyesi secured the division’s bronze medals.
“I had no plans of competing in judo ever again,” Huizinga said afterwards.
”But as this championship happens to be in my home country, I thought about it for a few weeks, I thought it would be nice to do this again in a real win-or-lose setting.
“It is nice that these championships are now fully adopted by the IJF.
“Judo is a sport for all ages, it is good that the national and international federation acknowledges that.”
Seven weight categories were being contested in both the men’s 30 to 34 and 40 to 44 age groups on the second day of the Championships, with the Mozambique Judo Federation general secretary Nilton Mojuvo among those competing.
However, his campaign in the men’s under 81kg event would prove to be short-lived after Russia’s Aleksandr Kondakov scored with a waza-ari and finally an ippon to deliver a first round defeat to the Mozambique judoka.
Kondakov though would not make the podium in the event as France’s Thibault Mori earned a shido penalty win over his compatriot Jeremie Martin to claim the title, while Russia’s Yuryi Dzalaev and Hungary’s Sandor Nagysolymosi earned bronze.
With two days left of the Championships IJF head sport director Vladimir Barta praised the importance of the event and expressed his delight that Huizinga opted to compete once again in front of a home crowd.
“The Veteran World Championships are a special event for all the members of the judo family,” he said.
“It has the feeling of a real family as there is a well-established circuit of veteran events and they know each other very well.
“It’s very special that Mark Huizinga is here, he was a fantastic champion, a judo hero for the Netherlands and to judoka around the world.
“I know judo fans loved seeing him in action again and I am sure he enjoyed it.”
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