Ukraine hosts first International Judo tournament for children

Today, despite the tense situation in eastern Ukraine, 600 km south of the front line and the combat zone, in the southern coastal town of Kobleve the opening ceremony of the first international judo tournament for children “MIR” took place.

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More than 1,000 talented youths from Ukraine, the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) as well as Romania and Bulgaria have come to take part in the tournament. The best young judo fighters will be defending the honor of their clubs, their cities and countries. Masters of judo, who had won championships in Europe and other parts of the world, as well as former participants in the Olympic games have arrived to show their support for the younger generation.

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The fact that the tournament is called “the world” is symbolic: the whole world is looking forward to the tournament.

Yesterday contestants from 25 teams spent time being weighed, working out and practicing for the last time, getting to know one another, and discovering a peaceful, welcoming, and incredibly beautiful country, Ukraine.

The festive opening ceremony took place this morning. The contestants were welcomed as honored guests and entertained by an art ensemble and by true knights.

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In welcoming remarks, both Viktor Andrievych Ishchenko, a patriot and a patron of the tournament, and Vladimir Petrovych Kyrylenko, head of the organizing committee and the inspiration behind the tournament, extended wishes for a glorious victory to all the strongest contestants.

Deputies of local councils, MPs, and the local officials responsible for advancement in education and in sports welcomed the young contestants, as well.

All the speakers wished the best men success and victory in the tournament as they emphasized the importance of friendship, especially at this critical moment for our country when the future is being decided and at this difficult time when the country is actually at war. Peace reigns over the tournament only thanks to those who at great personal cost are protecting us.

In their turn the young guests from Moldova wished Ukraine that a tranquil, peaceful sky stretch over the entire country!

Placing their hands over their hearts the young Ukrainian competitors sang the Ukrainian anthem during the opening ceremony. The mood was very patriotic. To the greeting “Glory to Ukraine” the kids responded, “Glory to the Heroes!” in a friendly chorus. Many of the competitors were wearing blue uniforms with yellow belts. The air itself was saturated with a sense of pride for the country and the sense of privilege for being Ukrainian.

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Today’s competitions will include all the age groups among the boys and among the girls.

A wish was expressed in the welcoming remarks that the battles be fought on the mats only, and as it turns out the wishes are not out of place: real life battles are being waged here. There are real emotions driven with real passion. The children cry a lot not because something hurts but because they feel angry and bitter after losing. A girl beat a boy with great virtuosity. On the mat it quickly becomes clear who is who. One is bombarded with mixed feelings: on the one hand it’s great to see the honesty and the naked feelings while on the other hand the heart tightens and contracts because these are children we are watching! Of course in the real world one has to be ready for everything and anything and in the final analysis it is better to experience pain and distress on a mat, to develop fortitude this way rather than to comprehend the lessons of courage in war.

An announcement was made that tomorrow [May 24th] the world famous champion and Mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klytchko, who is one of the honorable guests of the international tournament “MIR” will pay a visit to the tournament participants. Noteworthy is the fact that many years ago Vitali Klytchko trained here, at the sports center “Lotus” where the tournament is being held.

A reminder that the first international judo tournament “MIR” is being sponsored by the Embassy of Japan in Ukraine.

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Olena Okras, Lili des Cévennes, EMPR

 EMPR, O. R. contributed to this publication 

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