News

The latest Judo News offered by JudoInside.com

How judo became one of Russia's main Olympic sports

19 Aug 2016 09:00

 Indira Shestakova to RBTH    IJF Media Team / International Judo Federation
20160809_Rio2016_IJF_81_KHALMURZAEV, Khasan (RUS) (4)

In the last eight years Russian judo has made a giant leap forward. And it's not only down to Vladimir Putin being a role model for young judokas. Russian judokas, along with Russian fencers, have been among the top medalists at the Rio Olympics. Beslan Mudranov, who won the gold medal in the under-60kg category, set the tone for the Russian athletes, and three days later Khasan Khalmurzaev won gold in the under-81kg category.

No one was surprised by the victory of Russia's male judokas in Rio after their performance at the London Olympics in 2012. That year the London Games produced three Russian champions: Arsen Galstyan, Mansur Isaev and Tagir Khaibulaev. In Rio, however, the ovations went to other Russian judokas.

Competition within

Thirty-year-old Beslan Mudranov had been going for the gold for an entire two Olympic cycles. He was not chosen for the 2012 Olympics, having lost the position to Arsen Galstyan, who became champion in London. But Mudranov did not give up and in the end he was able to turn his cherished dream into reality.

The other Olympic champion in Rio is 22-year-old Khasan Khalmurzaev, who was not sure he would be part of the Russian team until the last minute. Competition in Russia in his weight category is extremely high.

The breakthrough

Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, is a passionate admirer of martial arts and is an eighth dan in judo and ninth dan in taekwondo. But for a long time Russian judokas could not brag about any outstanding achievements. A bronze and two silvers in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and two silvers and three bronzes four years later in Athens obviously did not suit a country with big athletic ambitions. At the 2008 Games in Beijing the Russian national team did not pick up any medals at all.

After the failure in China the Russian national team invited Italian judo expert and 1980 Olympic champion Ezio Gamba to be head coach. Under his management Russian judokas began to shine on the mat and in just a few years won eight Olympic medals, including five gold ones.

London 2012 Olympic champion Mansur Isaev says that Gamba managed to psychologically liberate the athletes. "In terms of technique, the head coach does not interfere in our work. He will only correct or suggest something. The atmosphere changed, the team has become very friendly. When we practice we all help each other," Isaev told RBTH.

Caucasian traditions

All the recent Russian Olympic Judo champions are from the Caucasus, where the martial arts are very popular. "We [in the Caucasus – RBTH] have fighting in our blood. Life is a fight and you must always find some kind of competition. From our very childhood we are inculcated," said Isaev.

Vladimir Putin, who would attend the judokas' training, had predicted success for the Russian athlete half a year before the Olympics. "When I asked who was our greatest competitor at the Olympics, many said the Japanese," Putin told journalists.

"We have a lot of respect for the Japanese since they are the founders of this sport. Then I asked one of our athletes where he was from. 'I'm a Kabardian,' he said (Kabardians are a people from the North Caucasus – RBTH). The Kabardians will be better than the Japanese, with all respect."

Putin's support

The judokas say that the head of state's attention for their sport can be felt. "Obviously Vladimir Vladimirovich has always loved our sport and practiced it in his youth. That is why we meet with him before almost all the big tournaments. We absorb his energy and go forward," said Isaev.

But the success of Russian judo is attributed not so much to the judokas' general sparring with the president but to the significant growth of investment in this sport. "Our national team has everything it needs and no one refuses us anything," explained Isaev.

Russia's great achievements at the 2012 Olympics in London resulted in a substantial increase in state funding. From 2013 to 2016, annual expenses for athletes of all levels increased from 310 to 445 million rubles (from $4.8 to $6.9 million).

By 2020, in accordance with the Russian Judo Development Program, expenses for the sport will increase up to 508 million rubles ($7.9). Currently, there are 24 specialist centers that prepare judokas in the country (in 2012 there were only three) and by 2020 their number will grow to 52.

Khalmurzaev's donation

Investments are made in the sport and in individuals. For example, Rio Olympic champion Khasan Khalmurzaev will donate his 4-million-ruble prize money ($62,500) to the development of children's judo in his native Republic of Ingushetia. In 2016 he became European Champion and won the Grand Prix of Havana. The twinbrother of Khusen won the Universiade title in 2015 and was European Junior Champion in 2011 and won two medals at European U23 Chs. Khasan was World U17 Champion in Budapest in 2009 U73kg.

Related judoka and events

Related Judo Photos

  • Beslan Mudranov (RUS) - 2016 Olympic Games day 1 Judo U60kg & U48kg (2016, BRA) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation
  • Natalia Kuziutina (RUS) - 2016 Olympic Games day 2 Judo U66kg & U52kg (2016, BRA) - © David Finch, Judophotos.com
  • Ezio Gamba (ITA) - World Championships Rio de Janeiro (2013, BRA) - © David Finch, Judophotos.com

Related Judo Videos

Related Judo News

20171021_zagreb_wchj_sellner_100_adamian_arman_rus_final_kotsoiev_zelym_aze_8

Minimal interest for European U23 Championships in Izhevsk

30 Oct 2019 17:30

Russia has a tradition in the age class U23 years. The European U23 Championships return to Russia as in 2011 in Tyumen and 2006 in Moscow the event was held in Russia. This edition will be held in Izhevsk, a city where Russian Junior Championships were held some years ago. It’s a city of over 600,000 people in the Ural where the temperature is below zero. Read more

photo

Grand Prix Düsseldorf important test for Russian team

18 Feb 2016 10:05

The Grand Prix in Düsseldorf will be an important test for the Russian team. Some of the big names are competing in Germany this weekend and it’s the return of Natalia Kuziutina. She didn’t fight since the World Championships in Astana where she finished seventh. The Russian women 'were not successful at the Olympic Games in London and now they are warming up for the Games in Rio. In Düsseldorf we will see their status and capabilities. Read more

20140912_Zagreb_PAISCHER Ludwig (AUT) - KABA Ahmet (TUR)6

World and Olympic champions grace Oberwart history

10 Feb 2016 09:30

This weekend the European Open will be held for men in Oberwart and women in Rome. The tournament in Oberwart has a rich history starting in Leonding in the eighties, to Vienna in the zeros and since 2011 in Oberwart. Read more

20120114_Almaty_GALSTYAN, Arsen (RUS) - SOBIROV, Rishod (UZB)5

Grand Prix Havana may predict some of the Olympic medallists

21 Jan 2016 09:05

The first event of the Olympic year may give us an interesting insight in the potential Olympic medallists. The first event of 2012, the previous Olympic cycle was the World Masters in Almaty. It was there when Arsen Galstyan (RUS) defeated the undisputed favourite until then, Rishod Sobirov (UZB). Also on the podium U60kg Hiroaki Hiraoka who also captured a medal in London’s Olympic Games. Read more

20141220_ECC14_Fighting Tbilisi_Avtandil Tchrikishvili_

ECC Golden League organised in Vienna at 19 December

26 Sep 2015 13:30

The European Club Championships- Golden league, will be held in Vienna this year. Last year the event was held in Samara, this time it is more central. At 19 December the best clubs of Europe will fight for the Golden league. The European Club Championships will be held in Tbilisi, as well at 19 December. The Austrian Judo federation is delighted to host the best clubs in the center of Europe. The first edition was won by Yawara Neva last year, the eighth title for the Russians. The Turkish women’s team of Galatasaray celebrated their first title ever. Read more

Judo birthday

Result City Date
1Tokyo1 Sep
1Tokyo26 Aug
1Fukuoka7 Apr
1Düsseldorf22 Feb
1Guangzhou2018
Result City Date
1Tokyo1 Sep
3Tokyo26 Aug
2Fukuoka7 Apr
1Budapest2018
2Osaka2018

Partners

First description Second description Third description Four description