A few minutes prior to the second final block of the Paris Grand Slam, IJF President Marius Vizer presented the 8th dan diploma to Florian Velici, expert of the International Judo Federation.

Florian Velici said, "I am very honoured to receive the 8th dan from the hands of Mr Vizer. My path in life has been punctuated by and for judo. I always wanted to give everything to the children and my athletes. I always wanted them to understand that by working you can go far. It takes heart and courage. I started with judo in 1971 and I can say that judo is my life."

Marius Vizer, the IJF President, said, "Florian Velici was my colleague at the Oradea Sport Institute and we worked for many years together. Sometimes our athletes were in competition and it was always very respectful. Mr Velici is a great judo specialist. He's been dedicating his life to others in Romania, in Germany and throughout Africa. He has led numerous athletes to the top of the world. Being a great judoka, he is also a great human being."

Florin Daniel Lascau, who has known Florian Velici for many years, explained why he deserves, more than anyone, this high recognition of his contribution, "I met Florian Velici when I was a child, maybe 3 or 4 years old. My dad had taken me to the sport centre and through a small window I saw a guy dressed in white pyjamas, teaching judo to young children. I told my dad, this is judo? This is what I want to do. Florian was amazing.

From early on, I noticed that he was someone special, passionate and understanding. He let us grow within judo. He was the central person. He taught us to act, to behave, to talk correctly. He followed us at school. He was the one who taught us how to take care of our lives.

Once he said that maybe I was not the strongest in judo, but because I was working harder than anyone, I would become Olympic champion in 1992. I didn't actually but one year earlier I had become world champion. He is a visionary.

Later on, we met again in Germany and I introduced him to the Abensberg Judo Club. Even without speaking the language, he was always respectful and polite.

I am honoured and proud that he was my first coach. He gave us dreams to achieve. He deserves more than anyone to become a 8th dan."

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