Judo master Abe, 97, puts ‘spirit’ above Olympic medals
Judo’s goal is to ‘strive for personal perfection’ through discipline and training, in turn contributing to society
Proudly sporting the red belt marking him out as one of the 15 highest-ranked Japanese judo masters in history, 97-year-old Ichiro Abe hopes the sport’s homecoming at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be more than a quest for gold.
Abe is training with a younger disciple during the famous Winter Training at the Tokyo Kodokan, where the sport began nearly 140 years ago. Despite Japanese fans pinning their hopes on a rich haul of judo medals, Abe said the Olympics are a chance to show the world the real significance of the home-grown sport, which prizes discipline over competition.
“All in all, we should not forget the original spirit of judo,” said Abe as he limbered up in the Kodokan’s seventh-floor dojo for the session that starts at 5.30 am sharp and attracts pilgrims from around the world...