This is the Judo blog of Lance Wicks. In this blog I cover mainly Judo and related topics. My Personal blog is over at where I cover more geeky topics. Please do leave comments on what you read or use the Contact Me form to send me an email with your thoughts and ideas.

Paying the bills

Exclamation mark Blog by Lance Wicks



Reflections on my First EJU Championships 

I am sitting here in my my backyard typing this after returning last night from the 2011 European Judo Championships in Istanbul. It was and incredible trip and I wanted to spend sometime thinking and reflecting on it and post it here.

The championships were amazing! Watching the very top players in Europe up close and in person was something I will never forget. The teams event on the final day was mind blowing and trust me you'll be seeing more of that format of competition!

But, thats getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning

I flew out in the company of Sheldon Franco-Rooks, the main commentator for the EJU. This was great as it meant there was someone who knew how things worked with me. Sheldon is a great character and made me feel immediately comfortable from when we spoke on the phone and from when we met at Heathrow.

On arrival in Istanbul, we were ferried to the hotel by mini-bus, well at least we were after my research poster for the EJU Research symposium finally was found and given to me.

In Istanbul thinks get a little blurrier, mainly because it was non-stop! The IT team arrive before the event and setup all the computerized scoreboards, CARE system for refereeing replays and the computers that run the draws. And that does not include the video streaming hardware and software. There are cases and cases of cameras, cables, computers and assorted bits and pieces that all need to be unpacked, tested, installed, tested, tested again and tested once more.

The night before the competition, the entire computer team along with some other members of the Turkish Judo Federation and EJU worked till past 5am to get everything Just so. We literally got back to the Hotel with just enough time to shower, change, grab breakfast and be back at the venue of the competition for 9am.

More testing, last minute problems led up to the competition getting underway. But the team is very professional and everything went smoothly enough. There are always small hiccups (people unplugging cameras, or damaging cables at the last minute for example), components breaking and of course Windows blue screens of death.

The competition itself was great, some terrific battles and I can't express quite how much more of an impact it makes if you are actually there rather than watching from home.
And speaking of which; the EJU stream all their big events live to the internet. Pretty forward thinking I have to say. They now stream all the mats in separate streams as well as having an HD commented channel. Along with this the software running the draws and the scoreboard is all interconnected and publishes immediately to the web as well. So everything is going live and thousands upon thousands of people are following it all.

I think my highlights were finally seeing Iliadis in action and Teddy Riner. Those of you who watched the stream might like to know that on the day of the heavy weights I was on the mat edge with the camera so all the footage you see of Teddy fighting in the preliminary rounds is my shaky hands! And yes he is huge in person!

The highlight I think most people attending would say would be the teams competition on the final day. The five person team format is exciting to watch and throws up lots of uncertainty and tactics as well as some great fights. The biggest match was perhaps the Turkish Womens team vs the Russian womans team. The Turkish team won it in the end and the noise from the local crowd during that bronze medal match was unbelievable!
The second highlight was the gold medal round in the mens category when Teddy Riner lined up against Ilias Illiadis and for a moment the whole place stopped and held it's breath thinking that possibly the two biggest name in European Judo were going to fight despite Iliadis being -90kh and Riner +100. Then winks were exchanged, both athletes laughed, smiled and embraced and Riner won by default as Greece had decided not to fought the last man.
The phoos on the EJU website tell it all. What a great moment, the photo of the two of them smiling is now my computer desktop as it really carries an important message about Judo I think.
THAT was sportsmanship, camaraderie and respect captured in a wonderfully humorous moment between two athletes.

During the championships two other important things were happening in the stadium. There was the 2nd EJU Research Symposium and also the EJU Coaching degree students were there doing various roles as part of there course. For me this was great as I participated in the symposium with my poster on the experiment I have been running on an alternative ranking system for elite Judo.
And if you have been following this blog you will know that I was one of the first cohort of EJU coaching degree students and am currently studying for the EJU Level 6 Masters degree. So it was great to see the students in the hall. I wish when i had been in there position the course had held one of it's modules at an elite tournament like that. It is a terrific innovation for the course I think.

At this point I should return to the video stream for a little while. What I have not mentioned is that the EJU managed to sell the TV rights for the competition to over 100 countries. So there was a live feed from the stadium to 100 countries for television coverage of the finals block each day. This was over and above the stream which is watched all over the world via the internet.
What it did mean however is that Shelden and Annett the main commentators were suddenly required to commentate the finals block for the TV networks. Meaning that I was asked to step into the breach and commentate the finals block for the internet stream along with Densign WHite the chairman of the BJA, EJU SPorts Director and a fellow graduate of the EJU Coaching degree (we were in the same year).
Commentating like this was completely unexpected and hard hard hard! Nerves definitely made day one tough, but I like to think I got better day by day and hopefully put in acceptable performances.
It was a fantastic experience and I am immensely flattered to have been allowed to represent the EJU in that way. Pretty unreal for a ginger lad from a small non EJU country like New Zealand.

Surrounding all this was a blur of anther things, meeting athletes officials, presidents and fixing things that went wrong. Having meals with members of the EJU and generally being led from place to place until managing to collapse on my bed at the end of each and every exciting and exhausting day!

Working with the EJU computer team and attending the event has I think been a real highlight, if not the highlight of my Judo career. To met such a group of people and be able to be part of it at a great elite event has me pinching myself still.
I am immensely grateful to all the people who made it possible for me to attend and contribute where I could. I would like to thank them all individually here, but would be horrified if I missed one name out by accident so would rather thank them all as a team!

I have to say I don't know if I have met a team that work so hard, so long or made me feel so welcome and made me laugh so much in my life!


[ view entry ] ( 1982 views ) permalink

<<First <Back | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | Next> Last>>

Powered by Simple PHP Blog Get RSS 2.0 Feed
Powered by PHP 4.4.9-8+hw0 Get Atom 0.3 Feed
Powered by Plain text files Get RDF 1.0 Feed