A few days ago it was officially confirmed that the International Judo Federation (IJF) granted Cuba the venue of one of the five annual Grand Prix category tournaments in 2014 and 2016, a real acknowledgement to the proven quality of Cubans in the global arena.
The decision was announced at a press conference by Romanian Marius Vizer, president of the IJF, who said he had been a Cuban judo admirer since his days as an athlete and coach, motivated by the results Cuba achieved despite being in the middle of economic difficulties.
From Hector Rodriguez, Montreal 1976 Olympic champion, to the most recent winner in London, Idalys Ortiz, Cuba has been one of the leaders of sport traditionally dominated by Asian and European athletes.
Precisely, according to the Cuban digital encyclopedia EcuRed, it was a European, Belgian Andres Kolychkiel, who introduced the sport on the island in 1951. In the same article we read that with the arrival of Professor Han Ji Chang in 1966 and Cuba’s participation in international events began the process of strengthening of judo as a martial art itself, and of the teaching and learning process. From that date Cuba has had great national coaches like Santiago Chinea, Antonio Becalli, Justo Noda and Ronaldo Veitia.
The truth is that in 2014 the Havana’s Sports City Coliseum will host a Grand Prix of Judo, a fact that can bring positive dividends for Cuban sports. First, the best Cuban judokas per division will get to fight the world’s top athletes, something unthinkable in tournaments hold in other parts of the world.
In addition, the Olympic qualification system remained unchanged and the Havana event will grant a large number of points for the world ranking that is used to grant berths at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
Also, the new headquarters will alternate with the traditional tourney held in the U.S. city of Miami, on a date colored by the excellent tropical climate.
IJF President explained that only ask Cuban sports authorities to organize the event, since the logistics will be covered by his organization. Similarly, the international body said that after the Grand Prix judokas from other countries can have a training camp in the resort of Varadero, Cuba’s main tourist destination, located in the western province of Matanzas.