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IJF honours Lassana Palenfo at special gala in Abu Dhabi

The judo family gathered at the Ritz Carlton on Saturday evening, following a successful second day of the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, to honour the retiring and distinguished Lassana Palenfo who was the longest-serving President in the history of African Judo.

 

 

Mr. Marius Vizer, IJF President, awarded the IJF Gold Medal to Lassana Palenfo, and recognised his lifelong work and dedication to the sport as H.E Mohamed Bin Tha'loob Al Derai applauded

The judo family gathered at the Ritz Carlton on Saturday evening, following a successful second day of the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, to honour the retiring and distinguished Lassana Palenfo who was the longest-serving President in the history of African Judo.

Ivory Coast judo supremo Palenfo, 75, is one of the most decorated and accomplished sporting figures in not only his own country but also his continent and paved the way for an unprecedented and long-running period of success for judo in Africa.

The long-time Ivory Coast National Olympic Committee President, who has excelled in the sporting and military sectors, officially stepped down in Brazil ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. An audience teeming with judo greats joined together to honour him at the lavish setting. 

Mr. Vizer said: “Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, we are not here to say good bye but to recognise Mr. Lassana Palenfo who has dedicated his life to judo. It is a pleasure to make him an IJF Honorary Member and, with his own family, to remain in our unique judo family. I thank your Mr. Palenfo for your support and all of your work for to the development of judo worldwide.

“I wish all the best to Mr. Habib Sissoko who was formally elected as the new African Judo Union President at the Rio 2016 Olympics. I wish you every success and to all of your team and African judoka.” 

Mr. Palenfo said: “Dear Mr. Vizer, IJF President, distinguished guests, dear judoka, I am honoured and humbled to be here before you and receiving such honours. I thank Mr. Vizer and appreciated his kind words. Moving on is a part of life and I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to everyone who has supported me and the progression of our sport.

“I have enjoyed working with you all and I have had incredible experiences through our sport which will always remain with me. I am sure that I am leaving the torch in good hands and the framework is in place for a prosperous future for African judo and the international stage.

“African judo has potential at all different levels and needs to be trusted, supported and better results will come. Hard work leads to experience and experience leads to excellence. I leave with feelings of emotion but also a sense of competition.”

Mr. Jean-Luc Rouge (above - left), IJF General Secretary, presented the IJF Honorary Member Diploma to Mr. Palenfo (above) before Mr. Vizer presented the IJF Symbol, a special Jigoro Kano statue to H.E Mohamed Bin Tha'loob Al Derai, U.A.E Wrestling, Judo and Kickboxing President (below - left).

His Excellency then presented a special award to Mr. Lassana Palenfo

H.E Mohamed Bin Tha'loob Al Derai said: “I am very happy today as we won two medals and we could not have done it without your support. I thank you all and I am very happy to see you here.”

Famed Italian singer and actor Al Bano (below - centre), who was appointed as an IJF Ambassador in 2016, has been enjoying the action at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam 2016 and treated the gala evening crowd to some special performances.

The attention returns to the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam 2016 on Sunday morning as the heavyweights will bring the fourth Grand Slam of the season to a thrilling close. 

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