Last year the event was upgraded to offer points equal to those of a grand prix, in the spirit of fair play, to offer athletes from the local continent a more efficient and cost effective route to both development and podium, with high level judo far closer to home than it normally is. Throughout the Olympic cycle the Oceania athletes have to travel to the more densely populated European events or those in Asia and Pan America, in order to meet the demanding criteria for Olympic selection. It is not easy and so the Perth Open is a very welcome calendar entry.
Simon Read, Chair of Judo Australia, said,
“It’s really good, a privilege in fact, to have the world class athletes here, not just to have exposure to such a high level of judo but also to be able to show off our great state of Western Australia, somewhere that really has a lot to offer visitors.
It’s an honour to be given the opportunity to run this event in Perth. It’s been a lot of work, the biggest challenge being to deliver a world class event, managing the complexities of it while living in such an isolated place, the most isolated city in the world. Flights to here are better than for the east coast and the time zone is also better. It’s hard to picture but the other side of Australia is still a 5 hour flight away.
We have a relaxed culture here and that means there is always a nice feeling at our events. Without the volunteers, dedicated people who carry that relaxed, warm approach with them, we couldn’t pull this off. The workload is huge and whomever is at the sharp end will be overworked but they all really take it on the chin. The resource pool is small but we have been blessed with the people who have turned up to support."
For our Australian judoka, this tournament gives them a chance to earn points that are an essential buffer when for the rest of the year they are hit so hard with the budget required to travel. We therefore have a large number of home athletes competing here and that has a knock on effect, feeding into the development of judo in Western Australia and the country as a whole.”
The quality of the event is not in doubt; simply looking at the day 1 results is enough to cement that statement. At -60kg the gold went to Olympic silver medallist and former world number one Yung Wei Yang (TPE) while at -57kg the final was played out between World Judo Masters medallist Mimi Huh (KOR) and double world medallist Nekoda Davis (GBR).
Sixteen nations won medals on day 1 with Korea sitting at the top of the table. A silver medal for the host nation, won by Haecker at -63kg provided the hosts with a huge reward, applauded by volunteers and spectators.
Day two is getting underway. The big star of the day, all eyes in her direction, is Alina Boehm (GER) who arrived in Perth with a European championship gold medal around her neck, won in Montpellier just last week. Souza (BRA), Chouchi (BEL), Perez (PUR) and a host of World Judo Tour medallists are set to raise the roof of the HBF Stadium and as we are in Perth, their welcome can only be warm.
Check out all results and statistics at JudoTV.com.