Among all the presidents of national federations and continental unions present in the Emirates for the Abu Dhabi World Judo Championships 2024, is Kate Corkery, elected president of the Oceania Judo Union last November. For the first time present as president of a continental union, she was happy to be back with the judo family.

"I'm feeling good. It's nice to be back. From 2016 to 2022, I was president of the Australian Judo Federation. At the Baku World Championships I participated in the Gender Equity Conference and in 2017 I attended the World Championships in Budapest but because of Covid and other obligations, since then I was not present on the World Judo Tour. Today, it's like walking back home, like I'd never left. I have the feeling that I still know everyone and that is a good feeling."

Having been elected to the OJU presidency recently, Kate is still discovering and learning a lot, but within a few months she already knows more about Oceania, a continent that faces many challenges. "The main challenge for us in Oceania is travel. Our union is spread over an immense territory. The distances between the countries are unimaginable for someone who has never been there. Another challenge is to do with the connectivity of the different nations and the lack of technology in many places. That's why we have already launched a small grant programme that can go up to US$ 5,000 and so far we have received very good projects from a dozen federations. For instance, Tonga didn't have a proper dojo and had to borrow a farmer building. They have now signed a contract for a permanent dojo.

Together with Carlos Carlos Zegarra Presser, President of Pan-America Judo Confederation

Kiribati used the support they received to take the tatami that were offered by the IJF out of customs for using as intended. They also have their own dojo now. It makes a huge difference."

This new phase of development leads to a new vision for the whole continent, "We want to see as many Oceanian athletes as possible at the Olympic Games in Paris and even more in LA in four years from now. Today we have around ten who are qualified directly, including two in top 8 seeding positions. This is a first step.

With Katharina Haecker (AUS) - Gold Medalist at the Panamerican and Oceania Championships 2024

When I saw the Games in Sydney in 2000, I immediately fell in love with the idea of sport connecting people no matter where they are coming from. In Oceania we have to learn to work together, to go further together, and for that we have to build a new generation of athletes, coaches and leaders."

As for being a woman and president of her continental union, Kate Corkery is proud, "You can't be what you can't see. I believe that my position as president, as well as the position of Lisa Allan, IJF Secretary General, or Sanda Corak, IJF Education Director, and many others, sets the example and shows that women can reach any position within our organisations. We have to work hard and learn from our negative and positive experiences. I must say that the judo family helps a lot to promote success, so we, as women, can have dreams."

IJF Academy

Kate is not only successful in her judo leadership, "I am a lawyer and own my company. I also have four children, three boys and a girl. I live in the capital of Australia, Canberra, and I became the Australian Judo president at the age of 30. I am not a judoka myself though and I was introduced to the sport through my children.

As I said, I fell in love with the power of sport and especially the power of judo, to unite people no matter their differences. For me, the reason why judo stands above any other sport or activity is because of its moral code. This is not just an idea; it goes very deep.

I was introduced to the sport through my children.

It is powerful to always go back to the moral code and to always be able to ask yourself: Is what I'm doing right and courageous? Is what I'm thinking respectful? These values are so important. As a non-judoka, I know that I might not have the knowledge of someone who has been in the sport for decades but I can bring something different and I believe that we'd lose opportunities by only measuring people by their belt."

Kate's vision for the years to come is clear, "I want every child who wants to experience judo to be able to do so. I do like the discipline and the friendship that judo brings within and outside countries. You know that every athlete one day started in a small club, in a small village or city or suburb, before some may become world champion. Many others will just enjoy the sport and its values."

The OJU president is optimistic. She is more than happy with the collaboration that has been developing with the Pan-American Judo Confederation for instance. "In Oceania, we are looking for new opportunities and we want to work together for the benefit of everyone here and there."

Based on her mindset and her capacity to change people's understanding of what can be achieved, opportunities will rise, that is certain. Throughout all the exchanges she has in Abu Dhabi, Kate Corkery will have plenty to think about in the months to come.

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