Ten years ago, Russia celebrated in Paris, France on the 27th of August as Tagir KHAYBULAEV became world champion in the -100kg category. Though racking up multiple Olympic champions in 2012 and 2016, one of the strongest nations in judo has been unable to celebrate another world champion, until now.
On day one of the World Championships 2021 in Budapest, Yago Abuladze (-60kg )put an end to the disappointed and rose to the occasion in impeccable fashion, winning all but one of his contests before the clock ran down.
He is no stranger to success on the IJF tour, winning the 2020 Grand Slam right here in Budapest, the first event to be held following the outbreak of the pandemic. Perhaps it was the feeling of being back here that drove him to the final, or perhaps that his wide range of technique, both in ne waza and tachi waza were too much to contend with, his ability to switch from left to right to adapt to each opponent fantastic to watch.
Of course these events are much different to what we are all accustomed to, the atmosphere is lacking due to the absence of a crowd and judo fans, the hype of a world championship event slightly dimmed by the extensive protocol, but not for Abuladze.
A happy World Champion, Yago ABULADZE in the -60kg category.
A big thumbs up for the gold medal!
One of his ne waza preliminary round wins.
His most challenging contest of the day against Yanislav GERCHEV (BUL) that stopped his ippon streak.
During each of his contests there was a driving force in the tribune, coaching and motivating, a hint of desperation that could only come from a parent. His biggest supporter, the person that carries him on this journey was there for his world title triumph and was the centre of the biggest celebration of the day. For many it is a shame that families and friends cannot attend these events, but for the fortunate few that have their family so intertwined with their career, it is a special experience.
Abuladze is only 23 years-old and has much left to offer and we certainly can’t wait to be witness to his future performances.
Author: Thea Cowen