It wasn’t long ago that Sami CHOUCHI of Belgium spoke to the EJU team about his surprise weight category change. The 30 year-old had tried his luck in -73kg but a national concurrence prevented him from living out his Olympic dream, and found himself in a repeat situation in the -81kg category with former world champion Matthias CASSE.
A natural change came about for Chouchi and he decided that the -90kg would be his new home this year. He mightn’t have had the greatest start but as many athletes will attest, a new weight category is no simple feat and it can often take a long time to be established as a front runner. With the depth of talent in this category, Chouchi has really carved himself a challenge but at #94 in the world ranking, he has already qualified for his fifth senior world championships.
‘Grow through what you go through.’ That quote has helped me a lot. What else can I say except that I thought I would perform straight from the first competition [he laughs] I look forward to Doha and to show what I’ve learned from the past competitions. I am a man of surprises and I am dedicated to putting on a show!
Of course the ultimate goal is Paris 2024 but with over a year to go he is looking forward being back on the tatami for this major championship.
There are quite a few European athletes who have narrowly acquired places for the 2023 world championships including Azerbaijan’s Konul ALIYEVA (-48kg) and Kacper SZCZUROWSKI (POL/+100kg). Judo fans love nothing more than an underdog, and there are plenty to choose from that could surprise the current front runners.
Author: Thea Cowen