The USIP (International Police Sport Union) recently held its judo world championship (from September 30 to October 1), in Kazan, Russia: a good opportunity to strengthen the cooperation between the IJF and the USIP after the signing, last February at the Judo Grand Slam, Paris 2012, of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations.
For two days, the best police athletes fought for Police World Champion title, a title which may have some importance in the career of a top athlete, like Tagir Khaibulaev, who was present as a spectator in Kazan. London Olympic champion in -100kg, he was actually Police world champion four years ago, in Libya.
After signing the MoU last February, this major event helped to seal the cooperation between the International Police Sport Union and the International Judo Federation, which sent to Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, part of its staff to assist the organizers of the competition.
Discipline and Respect
Throughout the competition, the organizing committee was placed under the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior of Tatarstan. 'Discipline' and 'respect' were the watchwords both for the organizers themselves as for the competitors, and all the combats were full of concentration in a relaxed atomsphere. In a very sports oriented city (Kazan counts several professional sports teams and will hold the Summer Universiade next July), an enthusiastic audience came during the final blocks to attend a judo competition of very good standard. At the end of the championship, Russia, which had a full team, won a majority of medals, despite the notable presence in the Netherlands, Austria, Brazil or the Gulf countries.
It is really a good quality championship and very respectful of the rules that took place in Kazan. The refereeing, under the supervision of Henk Plugge and Vladimir Vostrikov, both international Olympic referees, was also at the height of the event. This has been confirmed by all observers, including Dr. Karl Schopf, Special Representative of the IJF President, Marius Vizer, Jan Eirik Schiotz, director of the 'IJF Judo for Peace' commission and Johannes Daxbacher, member of the 'IJF Police and Army commission' and a police officer himself.
Satisfaction for the USIP
"It is a great satisfaction for the USIP and a first major step forward to transforming the MoU that was signed last February in paris, into reality" said Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, the USIP President, a little while after the closing ceremony, before adding: "We really hope that this cooperation will strengthen in the months and years to come, to the benefit of our two organizations. For us it is a strong signal that here in Kazan we could welcome the IJF representatives. They were of a great help. Now we can move onto the next phase."
This step was well described by the USIP Secretary-General, Sandro Dirckx: "Before anything, we had to give impetus to our cooperation and make it become real. This has now been done. Our next Police World Championship will take place in 4 years. This leaves us time to analyze this 2012 edition and to organize the next event. It also gives us the flexibility to continue our cooperation in the development field. This is a major objective of this Memorandum of Understanding, which is the first that the USIP has ever signed with an International Federation."
Projects under Study
Indeed the MoU that was signed last February between the IJF and the USIP goes well beyond assistance in organizing competitions and a large section of it is devoted to the development and promotion of the universal values that judo represents. In the weeks and months to come, the exchanges between the IJF and the USIP, through the work of the Police and Army Commission, in cooperation with other IJF entities, will continue and the emphasis will be placed on youth. "We need to bring the world together and take care of people in need", explained Sandro Dirckx. Projects in partnership with police academies will be considered, the specificities of those projects still need to be defined. The cooperation should also be helpful in finding professional reorientation opportunities for athletes after their sports career. "The process of developing programs together has been launched. We already cooperate and we are very proud of it, but we will further strengthen our relations," are the concluding words of the USIP President, Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah. A message that was emphasized by Dr. Karl Schopf, the Director of the 'International Security Competence Center' (a development platform of security projects for the European Union) and representative of the President Vizer, whose intervention during the first day of the championship was appreciated and followed by a large audience: "We came to Kazan to celebrate the best police athletes. This event is also a great step forward for future cooperation between the IJF and the USIP, in respect of equality and mutual benefit."
A First Choice Spectator
The Olympic Champion of the London Games in men's -100kg, Tagir Khaibulaev, was one of the guests of honor at the Police world championship. Winner of this championship, four years ago, the Russian fighter is under contract with the police of Tatarstan, and therefore had to be there: "I primarily came to support my team from the Police, in which I have many friends. Among them is Sergei Samoilovich, with whom I was competing for the Olympic qualifications." Sergei Samoilovich, who is actually third in the IJF World Ranking List, won the title in Kazan.
Both men, however, are best friends in the world, outside the tatami. This without a doubt illustrates one of the secrets of the Russian Olympic team, which topped the nation ranking last August in the British capital: "We have a great group of guys," said Khaibulaev, before adding: "We have an outstanding atmosphere and we support one another all the time. The preparation was tough, but having a head coach like Ezio Gamba, made things look easier."
To the question of what link exists between the Police title four years ago and his Olympic crowning, a broad smile lit up the champion's face: "For me it was the beginning of a great adventure, which ended in apotheosis in London. I take my duty as role model and ambassador very seriously and it was important for me to be here in Kazan. Firstly, as I said, to support my teammates and friends, but also as a positive return on investment to all the people who have been supporting me over the past years. Without the police title, I might not have been here today."
Tagir Khaibulaev is not standing in uniform, and, despite his police officer status, he is not assigned to a particular service. But he is an ambassador, who does not hesitate to meet people. During the two days of the championship, he had to shake hundreds of hands, probably explained a thousand times his Olympic joy, and again described his emotion on the podium, without ever losing his smile and good humor. Next year, training will start again, next objective being the Judo World Championship in Rio in 2013, where he will defend his gold medal, won last year in Paris: "And then? It's too early. It's too far from now to say anything" concluded the champion.
Having Tagir Khaibulaev present in Kazan is not trivial. It highlights the existing links between the IJF and the USIP and it can be seem as a hyphen that was strengthened after the two days of competition. A new Olympic cycle has begun, with a clear objective: Rio. 2016 will also coincide with the next edition of the Police World Championship. In the meantime, the two organizations will continue to work together in order to build the cooperation agreement that was signed last February. Sports and educational objectives have been set and recalled by Dr. Schopf, representing President Vizer, as well as by the USIP president, Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, and its Secretary-General, Sandro Dirckx.