Written by Nicolas Messner on 10. Mar 2024
Photographs by Gabriela Sabau, Emanuele Di Feliciantonio

In his capacity as IJF Education and Coaching Director, a member of the Executive Committee, and above all as a great judo enthusiast, Mohammed Meridja has been following the World Judo Tour assiduously for years. A former high-level athlete himself, he has in-depth knowledge of the development of judo. We asked him what he thought about this Upper Austria Grand Prix and more generally about the changes that have affected our sport in recent years.

“The competition is not over yet, but I can already say that I am impressed by the quality of judo on this third day. The number of positive scores is incredible. There is a lot of commitment and desire to throw, which is really good. There are really a lot of contests that are very interesting to follow.

The first day was a little more laborious, with more tactics, while on the second day we witnessed, among other things, a beautiful final block. In fact, I really wanted to follow all the fights.

Compared with a few years ago, judo has changed a lot and above all it has evolved in a good direction. The competitions are more and more attractive, especially while we are in the midst of Olympic qualification and in the preparation phase for the Abu Dhabi World Championships. This is the result of the hard work of the IJF and all national federations. There are many resources invested to make improvements in all sectors. Everyone is working in the same direction and it shows.

I can say that today’s judo presents a stronger and faster face. When I was competing, we only had a few international competitions. From now on, athletes can cross paths on the tatami almost every week, whether in competition or during training camps. Everyone knows each other. The preparation work has therefore become very important. There is no room for improvisation and technical-tactical schemes must be found for all situations. It still produces very spectacular events.

We can say that international judo has become a global village where everyone knows and respects each other. It’s another world. I prefer current judo by far.

All this is to say that as Coaching and Education Director, I am very satisfied with the behaviour of all those involved in the sport. There is a lot of respect at all stages of the judo rocket. Everyone knows what they can do and what their limits are. We do not observe any overflow. International judo is very stable.

The judogi control sector, which is under my responsibility, has also evolved a lot in the right direction. Everything is well regulated. This is imperative because we are the only sport where our equipment (the judogi and the belt) is used by our opponent. The improvement in compliance with the rules is notable. Everything is in order and it bodes well for a bright future for our sport.”