Judo champ impresses again

Olympic judo champion Ilias Iliadis, who won gold at the Athens Games in the 90-kilogram division, emerged victorious from the latest round of Super World Cup competition in Hamburg over the weekend. The gold-medal feat, Greece’s first ever in this tournament, elevated Iliadis to the top of the world rankings. Iliadis, who went to Hamburg having won a silver medal in the previous round two weeks ago, defeated Spain’s David Alarza in the final, in just two minutes. This latest performance from Iliadis, a naturalized Greek from the former Soviet Union, prompted an enthusiastic response from the Greek Judo Federation head, Vangelis Soufleris, who lauded the athlete in an extended posting on the federation’s official website. «He is a sporting prototype. Not just in Greece but all over the world,» noted Soufleris. «If he was based in France, Germany, Russia, or Japan, where judo is a popular sport, he would – without exaggeration – have been a national hero. In Greece, judo has not reached the place it deserves in the field of sports, but we’re striving for this on a daily basis. «We want this sport to enter the conscience of all Greeks, as it is one of the few solo sports that continues to offer us joy and distinction on every occasion,» he added. Soufleris predicted that, besides Iliadis, there was a lot more to judo. The depth of local talent in the sport would produce more future champions, he asserted. «Tariel Zintiridis is just 20 years old and has already won medals at both the worlds and Europeans in junior and youth-level competition,» noted Soufleris. «The same goes for [Tentore] Masmandis, [Alexandros] Gordeev, and many more stars that will soon shine.»