Paris, France: During a magnificent gala at the Opéra Garnier in Paris, the International Judo Federation celebrated its 60th anniversary. Several prizes were awarded to important members of the judo family, including the best female judoka of all time to Japan’s Ryoko Tani (nee Tamura). Nicknamed “Yawara-chan” due to her resemblance to a comic book character, Tani won Olympic gold in 2000 and 2004, silver in 1992 and 1996 and bronze in 2008, all in the lightest weight category, -48kg.
She also won seven world championships and Asian Games gold in Hiroshima in 1994. Mr. Marius L. Vizer, the IJF President, was delighted with the success of the gala. "Judo has entered a new era of evolution,” he said.
“We have made many changes during the past four years, but we still have a lot to do. For the very first time the IJF was able to organise such a gala. It was a real present for all our national federations. Great champions were rewarded, but also media and sponsors.
“The Judo Family concept is not only a concept, it is a true reality," said Mr. Vizer. Among the prestigious guests were: Ilie Nastase (tennis), Patrick Hickey (EOC President), Yvan Mainini (President, Basketball IF), Hassan Moustafa (President, Handball IF), Nadia Comaneci (gymnastics) and Lothar Matthaus (football).Among the prizes presented were
Best female judoka today, Yoshie Ueno (Japan); best male judoka today, Rishod Sobirov (Uzbekistan); best female judoka in history, Ryoko Tani (Japan); best male judoka in history, David Douillet (France); a life dedicated to judo, the late Jigoro Kano (Japan); judo legend, the late Anton Geesink (Netherlands); judo promotion around the world, All Japan Judo Federation.