Baku 2015 European Games (BEGOC) announced that 10 nations have qualified for Blind Judo competition at next year’s inaugural event.
In total, ten countries will have 16 judokas in the event, which is being fully integrated into the Judo program at the Heydar Aliyev Arena.
Blind Judo will take place throughout one day with medals in the men’s over 90 kilogram category and in the women’s under 57 kilogram category.
Baku 2015 Chief Operating Officer Simon Clegg said: “Blind Judo is a fantastic addition to our sports program and proof that the inaugural European Games will be an innovative and inclusive event that will be enjoyed by sports fans from all over the world.”
“I would like to congratulate all of the nations who have qualified for next year and wish them good luck as they continue their training and preparation for Baku 2015,” he underlined.
The 10 nations that have qualified are Azerbaijan, France, Germany, Greece, Great Britain, Hungary, Russia, Spain, Turkey and Ukraine.
In the men’s tournament, Ilham Zakiyev who has won two Paralympic gold medals at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, and one bronze in London 2012 will compete for Azerbaijan.
“To represent my country at the first European Games in Baku is a wonderful honor for me and I hope to make history as the first champion,” Zakiyev said. “It is excellent that Blind Judo is included at Baku 2015, and I am very proud to have the opportunity to win a medal for Azerbaijan in the Heydar Aliyev Arena.”
In the women’s competition, Germany’s Ramona Brussig who won London 2012 gold medal in the under 52 kilogram category will be one of the main rivals.
Director of Sport at Baku 2015 Pierce O’Callaghan said: “The 16 athletes that have qualified for Baku 2015 have a wealth of experience between them and represent some of the elite talent of Europe.”
“We are expecting huge interest in Blind Judo, and are confident of hosting an event that will showcase the sport as the judokas battle for the right to be called the first ever European Games champion,” he added.
Baku will host the first European Games next summer from 12 – 28 June, involving more than 6,000 athletes from the National Olympic Committees of Europe across 17 days of competition, in what will be the largest sporting event in Azerbaijan’s history.