Maria Pekli in the semi-final of the Beijing Olympics. Pic: Adam Head
Maria Pekli in the semi-final of the Beijing Olympics. Pic: Adam Head

Female judo duo awarded high honours

IT'S not just in the mainstream sports where women are kicking butt and making headway.

Appropriately for kicking butt, it's in judo too.

Sue Williams, who won Olympic gold in the sport in 1988, and current Judo Australia technical director and head coach AND five-time Olympian Maria Pekli have been promotions in grade that for women have not seen in this country before.

Williams, a three-time silver medal World Championship winner and Australia's most successful international competitor, has become the highest ranked female in the sport of judo in Australia and is the only female to have been graded a 7th Dan in the Oceania region.

Sue Williams (right) with Judo Australia chair Kate Corkery. Williams was recently acknowledged for her achievements in judo.
Sue Williams (right) with Judo Australia chair Kate Corkery. Williams was recently acknowledged for her achievements in judo.

While Pekli, who is currently the only Australian in the International Judo Federation's Hall of Fame, has been promoted to 5th Dan.

The promotions come for their extraordinary accomplishments in the sport and were endorsed by the International Judo Federation.

Williams is just the 20th person in Australia to be awarded 7th Dan grading, with the last person passing in 2015. Gradings go to 9th Dan in Australia and 10th internationally.

Judo Australia chair Kate Corkery believes that the achievements of Williams and Pekli are incomparable and stand apart from any other Australian judoka in the sports history.

"We are proud of our long history of success with competitive female judoka and this is a wonderful and deserved recognition for both Sue and Maria," said Corkery.

Pekli with her gold medal from the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester .
Pekli with her gold medal from the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester .

"We believe that with our community we can continue to grow our female participation base so that we have many more successful female judokas in the years to come."

Judo Australia had no women ranked higher than 6th Dan, yet they are undoubtedly the sports most successful international competitors.

Recently Judo Australia launched the first stage of a Female Participation and Engagement Strategy.

It's purpose is to grow the female participation base in Australia, part of which is acknowledging the achievements of successful female judoka so far.



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