Three players, John Maxwell (NEL CD) M6 -90kg, Melody Scott (CAN CA) F6 -70kg, and Vitaly Aliluev (UNI AK) M6 -100kg, joined over 1000 competitors who had entered from all corners of the world, from as far flung as Angola (with 17 players) across to New Zealand and up to the Faroe Islands along with another 60 countries in between at the competition.
Referee Diane Limbrey (WEL WN) joined 26 other referees selected by the IJF to officiate at the event, including two Australians.
With only three mats running the four days were long (day one started at 9am and finished 12 hours later!) but action packed throughout with quality judo on display and great support from the stands.
John and Vitaly were first up on day one.
John had 16 in his division and drew his good friend Ashley Parrette, GB first up….an experienced fighter with three European Veteran Champs and two previous Veteran Worlds already under his belt. John unfortunately slipped up in golden score with Ashley going on to take 5th place losing to an Aussie in the bronze fight.
Vitaly, in a division of 13, had Poland’s Slawomir Kaminski in his first fight. The Pole had come 3rd in June’s European Vets (the powerhouse region of veterans judo), 2nd in last years Worlds and 3rd back in 2019, so it was going to be tough.
Vitaly went the distance but succumbed to a wazari in the last 30 seconds of normal time. The Pole went on to claim bronze.
Melody fought on the final day in a round robin division of three players. She lost her first fight to a Hungarian by wazari in golden score (who went on to claim gold) but quickly disposed of her Czech opponent in her second fight to take the silver medal.
It was great to see New Zealand had a team of three as last year there was only John flying the Kiwi flag.
Hopefully more players embrace veterans judo and team numbers can grow next year.
France had a team of 137 and Kazakhstan 147!