In a few days we will be celebrating International Women's Day and we will focus on #InspireInclusion, which can also be summarised in ‘Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress.’ Sabrina Filzmoser (AUT) was world number one in judo, 4 times an Olympian, a world medallist and European champion. Today she is the chair of the IJF Athletes' Commission and right now she is in Hawaï to work on her helicopter flying licence.

In 2022, we followed her up to the summit of Mount Everest where she took the judo values on an extraordinary expedition.

With all that in mind, we asked her who the people are who inspired her and why it is important to inspire inclusion.

"I think it was important to find some time to reflect on 8th March. I feel responsible to express my thoughts. Recently, my friend Haruka Tachimoto, Olympic champion in 2016 in Rio, visited me. Her presence was inspirational. If I have to think about the people who inspired me, I would definitely say my mum too, no doubt!

As a child I always needed sporting role models like all of our famous Austrian winter-sport idols. Then it was Ryoko Tamura (2 times Olympic champion, 7 times wold champion). Her hard work, her faster than the speed of light moves and reactions and her consistency were so impressive.

Sabrina (left) and Haruka Tachimoto (second from the left) in Hawaï

In school I studied physics and mechanical engineering, so Marie Curie (physicist and chemist), the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize, was the one I always tried to look up to. I read a lot about her difficult life and her incredible challenges during her research periods. Her scientific work but also her teaching and her progress and influences on the medical and therapeutic use after the separation of radium from radioactive residues are just mind blowing.

Then there was Amelia Earhart, the American aviation pioneer and writer, who flew as the first female ever over the Atlantic Ocean, who broke the altitude record and was instrumental in setting up an organisation for female pilots.

Nowadays it is Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, who was the first woman to climb all fourteen peaks over 8,000m without using supplemental oxygen and in a very valuable style, always supporting local communities and never forgetting about the precious necessity to give back knowledge and experience.

Everest Judo Club in Khumjung, Nepal

When reflecting on why it is important to inspire people, my answers might be a little confused, as this is a vast subject. I feel extremely lucky to be able to think about it intensively but the answer is not that easy. Right now I’m following intense flight instructor educational training, I’ve gained more experience about the dimension of the learning process and the teaching process. Of course my reflection concerns women but is not limited to them. It is more global than that.

I believe that we should ensure that diverse talent is well represented in every sector. We do need to strengthen people's capabilities and their leadership accountability. This means being fair and transparent, enabling equality and fostering everyone's opportunities. This helps to promote openness and tackle micro-aggressions, bias and discrimination.

Inspiration and inclusion is a way to show unequivocal support for all the ways diversity manifests. When we inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion, we forge a better world, and when women themselves are inspired to be included, there’s a sense of belonging, relevance and empowerment.

That's where judo comes in handy. With the moral code in mind and the judo and Japanese philosophy anchored in our souls, we can do a lot. Whenever self-control, honesty, courage, sincerity, friendship, respect, modesty and courtesy are involved, you can be sure that we can inspire inclusion and create a better world.

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