Covid-19 – Oon Yeoh’s Judo Lesson

    Covid-19 – Oon Yeoh’s Judo Lesson

    20 Aug 2020 09:30

     Anthony Diao for Judo Canada    IPPON GEAR


    At the start of the confinement, a man took the initiative to give a voice to judokas from around the world. Let’s take a look back at his work, which brings us as close to the action as possible during a period that will be remembered and from which perhaps, we can learn some lessons.

    And what if one of the most beautiful lessons of judo ever given had been during this dangerous spring of 2020, this pivotal moment when the planet in almost its entirety was suddenly deprived of contact, of meeting and therefore of tatamis? The operation, unprecedented in its genesis, scale and scope, will remain for posterity known as “Judo at the time of the Covid-19”. It will stretch from March 18 to May 22, 2020, a period of two months, four days and seventy-two articles and interviews. Malaysian Oon Yeoh wrote them in cooperation with JudoInside.

    5,300 km separate Kuala Lumpur from Tokyo, 7,500 km from Sochi and 10,400 km from Paris. Former representative of the peninsula at the 1993 and 1995 world championships

    JudoInside as partner to showcase the interviews

    His idea changed when the former 60kg Asian top athlete shared his project with the Dutchman Hans van Essen, one of his oldest partners in crime on the circuit. “Why don’t you interview the world no. 1s like the Frenchwoman Amandine Buchard or the Italian Manuel Lombardo?” Suggested the man behind the JudoInside site, the Kodokan of all amateurs and professionals of judo statistics. And so, the series “Judo at the time of the Covid-19” was launched.

    What was his methodology on the Covid-19 series? JudoInside for stats, JudoBase for videos, and Google Search for articles. The less known the judoka is, the more Oon Yeoh returns to the internet in search of the micro-detail that will break the ice and allow the level of the interview to go up a notch. He tirelessly returns to the questions related to career funding and perspectives on watching videos to progress… Questions by e-mail, answers by the same channel or by Skype, WhatsApp audio or recorded – in short, even cloistered at home. And since most of the respondents are not English-speaking, a lot of editing and reformulation sometimes has to be done behind the scenes. Similarly, some responses sometimes call for follow up. “This is where the difference can be made between an average interview and a good interview,” says Oon, a veteran of the exercise who made the athletes simply look better.

    Many top athletes were interviewed. German Olympic champion Yvonne Boenisch agreed to play the game. “Yet she never gives interviews in Germany” confided one of her German friends to Oon. “It is true,” confirmed Yvonne, who is now part of the staff of the Israel team, “but I liked reading your stories, that is why you had a quick yes from me.”

    Beautiful stories and little-known realities

    This series, systematically relayed by JudoInside as agreed Oon and Hans, aimed to compensate for the content deficit resulting from the cancellation of all the competitions in the spring and  made it possible to reveal stories hitherto confidential, giving the reader a finer vision of the reality of the daily life of others.

    Kathy Hubble, pioneer of Canadian female judo retired at nineteen to become a stuntwoman in the cinema before returning to shine on the veteran circuit? “Judo must pay attention to marketing and develop a strategy to consider our future as a sport, otherwise we will lose ground against Brazilian jujitsu,” she prophesized. The Swiss Evelyne Tschopp? A medical student, the double European medalist under 52kg admits her paradoxical career: “The more stressed I am for my exams, the better I fight…” Let’s also mention the Italian Maria Centracchio, third at the 2019 European Games in the 63kg category, who already speaks five languages, or the Danish veteran Tommy Mortensen, who wonders what will become of the youth who will have been deprived of judo for so long.

    Fascinating interviews by Oon Yeoh. The interviews are summarized at JudoCanada’s blog by Anthony Diao

    Become a Patreon of Oon Yeoh's website.

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