Judo has a significant presence in Georgia, both historically and in contemporary sports. Over decades, the country has been developing a strong tradition in judo, producing numerous high-calibre athletes who have been competing on international stages with substantial success at the Olympic Games and world championships. Georgian Para-judoka have also made their mark at the international level, including past Paralympic Games. Their most recent tally matches that of their sighted counterparts, yet the awareness about them still differs.

Mr Levani Kochievi, head coach of the Georgian Paralympic judo team further explains, “Para-judo in Georgia has reached quite a high level. We have Olympic, world and European champions. The Olympic team however still overshadows the Paralympic team, not in success but in terms of attention within the country. That is certainly an area to improve via promoting Para-judo better and I am hoping that by hosting the first ever IBSA Grand Prix in Georgia this weekend, that will be a good start.”

The training regimes of the respective teams are more or less similar, Para-J2 mostly trains with the Olympic elite team, while J1 has their own training schedule. The weekend will provide both J1 and J2 the opportunity to compete at the Tbilisi Olympic Palace, showcasing their talents to a nation very familiar with judo in general.

“Hosting this event allowed us to enter three new judoka who were just classified for the first time. It is a good opportunity for them and for the rest of the team as well to compete at home. It gives us the chance to show the media and audience what we do in Para-judo and to have more people to understand what Para-judo is all about. As I said it is the first time, but I am hoping for it to become a recurring event.”

“This weekend, we hope to get a few medals but since our team is more or less clear for Paris, we are more focused on doing our best. This is not the main destination, we want the team to be ready and in shape for the Paralympics as we seek to win medals in Paris, including gold.

I just want to wish all the best to all delegations and we hope this first IBSA Grand Prix in Tbilisi will be a good experience and that everyone will return home with satisfaction.”

It is evident that the IBSA Judo Grand Prix in Tbilisi is part of a broader strategy to enhance the visibility and development of para-judo in Georgia, providing a platform for athletes to compete at a high level and prepare for major events such as the Paralympic Games. Paralympic judo in Georgia has been developing steadily, with significant achievements and support mechanisms in place to promote the sport among athletes with disabilities.

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