When the men's training began, things became a little hectic in the hall in Mittersill. Along with EJU Vice President Otto Kneitinger, Salzburg's Sports Councillor, Martin Zauner, Mayor Wolfgang Viertler and ÖJV President Martin Poiger, IJF President Marius Vizer also entered the hall and took the microphone to wish the athletes and coaches a happy and successful new year. Mr Vizer then answered a few questions.

What brings you to Mittersill?

Marius Vizer answered, “Mittersill is the number one training camp in the world. I've been here many times, first as president of the European Judo Union and most recently in my role as president of the International Judo Federation. I was in Kitzbühel 30km away and came to congratulate the local organisers and the Austrian Judo Federation on the 30th anniversary of the Olympic Training Camp.”

How do you feel going into Olympic year?

“It will be a particularly intense year for us. I hope it will be a successful Games for Europe. As IJF president, I am of course fundamentally neutral, but it would be helpful for the event if the Games were held in a peaceful atmosphere and the Europeans were successful. At the moment, we can assume that all nations will compete in Paris. That would be in the spirit of the sport. We must not forget the World Championships in Abu Dhabi in May, as the final highlight of the Olympic qualification period. Judo at the highest level will be on offer there too.”

When will we next see you in Austria?

“Even if I'm currently living in Budapest, Austria is and will remain my home; both my children are Austrian. You can assume that I will be at the Upper Austria Grand Prix in Linz at the beginning of March. I'm looking forward to it.”

Historic Evening

Mittersill has been the place to be for top level athletes and their coaches at the beginning of the season, for decades. Thus, an illustrious circle of local greats and international judo officials were invited to the Bösendorfer Hall at Schloss Mittersill on Thursday evening. The photos on display invited guests to travel back in time through the past three decades.

"What you achieve year after year is really special. With more than 1,000 participants and the absolute top stars in the industry, Mittersill is very special. The Austrian Judo Federation, the local organisers, the Salzburg provincial government and the town of Mittersill deserve a big thank you," said Marius Vizer, on that occasion, before presenting Judo Austria’s President Martin Poiger with the IJF Gold Medal of Honour. Mr Vizer also presented Salzburg's Provincial Councillor for Sport, Martin Zauner, with a medal of honour.

EJU Vice President Otto Kneitinger presented Mittersill's mayor Wolfgang Viertler with a very special certificate, "Mittersill is now an official European judo city; the training camp enjoys a first-class reputation throughout the judo world. You have more than earned this honour."

Martin Poiger said, "It was a very special evening, a tribute to the state, city and local organisers. Ali Gmeiner should be proud of what he has achieved. The fact that the Mr Vizer is paying us a visit gives the 30th anniversary even more weight."

Source: European Judo Union Photo copyright: EJU/Carlos Ferreira - editorial use free of charge

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