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Judo in the name of the father

Date: August 22, 2023

Category: Judo

It is just tomorrow that Judo will start its World Championships in the 2023 IBSA World Games, but the training sessions have already started.

For the second time in the history of blind and visually impaired judo, a representative from Madagascar is present on the international circuit of competitions. The judoka responsible for that achievement is the first ever blind athlete in the sport to do it: Nampoina Daniel Rakotoarivelo.

Nampoina, 29, born and living in the country’s capital, Antananarivo, started his judo career only five years ago. Totally blind since he was 9 years old, due to one unfortunate, unidentified peniciline allergy, his life story changed radically when some friends made him go out to dance.

“I spent almost three years indoors, without leaving my home, with a big depression and no will whatsoever to do anything else”, started the skinny judoka, but with a powerful mind, which he developed exactly thanks to judo. But the sport came later.

“One day, some friends dropped by my house and told me that I should go out and dance. It was then that I started contemporary dance, and I felt really good with the movements”, added Nampoina. It was by that time that sensei Antsa Ranjatoson watched his movements and tried to bring him into sport. He was already founding a club for blind judokas, and many young athletes tried, but none of them stayed long enough to get to the level of international competition.

“Judo gives meaning to my life”

Nampoina gets a salary from contemporary dance and completes it with some handcrafted gifts that he sells.

“When my father was alive, he wanted me to learn some kind of martial art, but he never had the chance. First I got blind, and then time went by and he died. In a certain way, I decided to fulfil his dream, and I wish he could see me now. I didn’t know anything about judo, and it has been an amazing process since I decided to dedicate my time to judo. I feel very good when I am training, although judo has very hard movements. I think my life is like judo. I also had very hard times in my life, but as long as we keep our minds strong, we can balance everything. Judo gives meaning to my life”.

Although Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world, according to the United Nations’ LDC list (Less Developed Countries), Nampoina has a lot of plans, not only for him but also for other blind children in his country.

“I have many, many dreams! I want to win an international competition. I would love to open a judo club to teach what I have been learning. My first competition was last December in Tokyo, and now is my second time on a stage like this. I know I can improve by competing at this level.”

Nampoina smiled when the animated movie Madagascar was mentioned in the conversation. Probably, it is the only reference that most people in the world have to the island on the east coast of Africa, bathed by the Indian Ocean. “My country is beautiful! Nature, lots of trees, animals, beautiful beaches, and Malagasy people are most friendly. Definitely worth visiting”.

He trains at the moment in the Laporte Judo Club in Antananarivo and gets financial support from local private donors and from the USA.

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