The indispensable link in Alexandru Bologa’s story is Tamas Gergely. The judocoach, born in Hungary but a citizen of Cluj-Napoca, is the first one to train a blind judoka. “I never really wanted to be a coach, until I saw the project”, describes Tommy – how everyone calls him – his passion.

“The Romanian paralympic committee founded a project with blind judokas in 2012. It was the first time in Romania that someone started working with a blind athlete in judo. The project instantly caught my interest, and after half a year I decided to join. I never really wanted to be a coach, until I saw this project. I have a much bigger pleasure to work with visually impaired people than with abled people.”

“When I joined, we knew we had to integrate the blind athletes with sighted athletes. By talking with a lot of coaches and going into competition, we gained experience to quickly adapt to the new style.”

Restarting the project

“The reason Alexandru plays judo on such a high level is because of his maturity. As a world champion and four time European champion, he proved that he has the gift to rise to the occasion. On those occasions, it’s my task to support Alexandru. He needs to feel that we are around him, helping him with whatever it takes. Even on the highest level, athletes need support of people who are very close to them.”

“Alexandru gives us power by the way he lives and trains”

“After the Paralympics in Paris, we’re thinking about restarting the project with blind and visually impaired children. Alexandru is thinking about helping us as a coach. I’m sure he has good qualities do to so: his experience, patience, and the fact that he loves judo.”

Beneficial for everyone

“The problem in Romania is that kids are not doing sports as we would need it. They’re not coming. If I could change something, I would attract young people to joining our world of sports. Undoubtedly we would have more high-level athletes.”

“Including disabled people in sports, is beneficial for everyone. Even for abled sportsmen. Athletes like Alex – how I name him – give us power. You just have to think about how he lives, how he trains. He’s an example for every one of us.”

Coach Tamas and Alex at the Judo World Championships in Uzbekistan.
“Including disabled people in sports, is beneficial for everyone.”

By Dave Bouthoorn, Timea Fekete, Marko Kralj, Kristof Kalmar, Emilia Holm, Yarno Voets. Coach: Constantin Trofin