World Ranking #1: -52kg

It is three years now since Amandine BUCHARD (FRA) made the move from the -48kg category to the -52kg category. The French athlete ends the year at the top of the IJF World Ranking List, unquestionably a major achievement for any athlete, and an important indicator for Buchard. Quite apart from her seeding position at future tournaments, there is also the potential funding, sponsorship and advertising spin-offs that may materialise.

There are basically two routes to the top. The first is to be successful and win the few tournaments one enters. The second is to ensure that, in the absence of winning the tournament, one places highly enough each time so as to gather enough points to make up for any losses. Buchard has a 1 from 7 record (her one gold medal performance came at the Tbilisi Grand Prix in March) compared, for example, to her team mate Clarisse AGBENENOU (FRA) who is 5 from 5 having taken the “win all” route.

Buchard would no doubt wish to have turned her World Masters silver and world championship bronze medals to gold. However, the French athlete faces stiff opposition from three high-quality Japanese athletes. Buchard has yet to win a medal match against any of the trio and her career 3-8 record includes 5 losses that came in 2018. On the plus side Buchard show every sign of growing in stature and confidence in the category. She has become extremely hard to defeat and, leaving aside the Japanese question, can look forward to another successful year in 2019.