Peter Middleton and Luc Tournier are athletes, coaches and heads of delegation. Among veterans, wearing multiple hats is commonplace. They also have in common that they come from far away, from Australia. They symbolise the development of the veteran community.

“We are happy to have participated in the World Veterans Championships. Our personal results are not necessarily what we had hoped for but it was a great experience. Our team, overall, obtained very honourable results. Team Australia leaves Abu Dhabi with a gold medal, a silver, 2 bronzes and a fifth place. We are still hoping for more medals today, particularly among the women," they explain.

Luc Tournier (left) and Peter Middleton (right)

For them, "Veterans are a logical and natural extension of seniors. We are all coaches, we manage clubs, we are in contact with the youth too. All of this means that we are important players in judo. We are role models for many young judoka and the fact that we continue to compete means that we understand very well what they experience and what they feel. Participating in such an event allows us to stay in touch with the world of judo. We can continue to do what we love and we can guarantee that we still have medal dreams.

At the end of a veterans world championship, we are as happy or sad as the athletes who compete on the World Judo Tour. The emotion of winning or losing is the same.”

Peter and Luc indeed have dreams, "We hope that in the future we can do even better than this year. We will come back for sure. We also hope that more and more veterans join the movement in Australia, but also across Oceania. We need to ride the wave of development. Australia is a huge country and Oceania is even bigger. It's a challenge but the opportunities are there. We can grow. We need as many judoka as possible to join us."

Peter, Luc and Josateki Naulu

It is not Josateki Naulu, who will deny them. Newly integrated into the IJF Veterans Commission, a native of the Fiji Islands, he sees things on a big scale, "I am rather new to the commission and to the world of judo for veterans. They are real heroes for me. We wish to give them more visibility. They occupy so many important positions in the world of sport. Without them, we would be nothing. Through their presence and their passion, they tell us that there is something beyond the very high level. In Oceania we must embrace this perspective. Peter, Luc and all the others show us the way."

In judo, it is always about the way. In the wake of the team from Australia, many judoka will be able to find or rediscover what they love so much in judo. Their message was received loud and clear.

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