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Japanese discover new Baruto, in Oonurme

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PHOTO: Kaader filmist

Tracking the footprints of their idol, camera-equipped Japanese are a familiar sight on soil tread by Baruto in his childhood days.

By now, a documentary has been released on a Tudu schoolboy with all preconditions for breakthrough in the world of sumo – just like Kaido from nearby Rohu village.

The nearly 1 hour film Boy Meets Sumo! follows the 14 years old Oonurme lad Oliver Valdre, who, due to his tallness and weight, has found a way of living in sumo. And who, under the hand of Coach Riho Mäe, was crowned European champion in his age-group, last year in Ukraine.

The moving and stirring film shows Oliver training with huge balls of hay in home farm, urged along by his father, meeting Baruto in person in Vinni and, finally, after a bus ride to Ukraine, in tears over the victory.

In the documentary, Oliver talks of the tough work it takes to make it big in sumo. However, he’s ready. More than medals, he values the friends he has found. And the realisation: when you win, never show your superiority. And when you lose, never show you’re cast down. And while defeats used to make him cry, in Ukraine, he only had to weep for joy.

Sumo promoter Riho Rannikmaa said that, with his weight, Oliver would exceed the limits set for wrestlers. Sumo, however, is just the thing for him. «It takes a lot more than weight, of course. For sumo is not only sports, it is lifestyle. He has the goods, so if he keeps on going, he may go far,» reckons Mr Rannikmaa.

According to Riho Rannikmaa, Oliver comes as classic example of how talents are to be sought in the countryside, even if the capitation fee and all else is in towns. «Nobody searches the villages,» Mr Rannikmaa said, pointing to the fact of  Kaido Höövelson alias Baruto himself is also a country boy, coming from Rohu. And the female wrestling success, Epp Mäe, being raised near the Tudu swamplands.

As a parallel story, the Japanese film also follows Liis-Maria Koulen, raised in the Vinni Perekodu children’s home, who took European Championship bronze in Ukraine. In the film, 14 year old Liis-Maria says the following: «The children’s home kids are just like the rest. Only, maybe they’ve been through harder times than the others.»

From Vinni Perekodu, quite many kids come to practice sumo. For them, this is a fun way to live it out and find inner balance.

The film, shoot last summer, has been shown in Japanese national TV for a couple of times, already. And, in Mr Rannikmaa’s hopes and dreams, it soon reaches the Estonian audience as well.

Around Vinni, camera-carrying Japanese are a familiar and welcome sight. A motion picture planned on Baruto’s childhood days, however, has not taken off yet.

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