20 May 2024


World Championships Seniors (Individual+Teams)


One of the main talking points of the 2024 World Judo Championships in Abu Dhabi, is Olympic qualification. Most of the athletes competing throughout the week have secured their tickets to Paris and are coming to the United Arab Emirates for the world title and their final preparation before the Olympic Games commences.

For some however, the weight of selection is on their shoulders, needing final points, climbing out of continental quota or even challenging team mates which we have seen so much of during the IJF World Judo Tour. On the first day, we had a few examples.

The Swiss judo team have the best problem of too many qualified in the -52kg category. In the previous cycle, Fabienne KOCHER ended up overtaking Evelyne TSCHOPP for the ticket to Tokyo, but she is now on the receiving end of heartbreak as rising star, Binta NDIAYE has come knocking.

Binta NDIAYE (SUI) © Gabi Juan

Back and forth we went as each took their initial wins, however Kocher suffered at the hands of eventual bronze medallist, Mascha BALLHAUS (GER), and Ndiaye continued on to the quarter final, ensuring herself a 7th place at the very least. This is how the fairytale ended, following losses to the top seed and two-time world silver medallist, Diyora KELDIYOROVA (UZB) and PUPP Reka (HUN) in the repechage. Nevertheless, these points only add favour to Ndiaye’s position and will see the youngster take her Olympic debut in 2024.

Spain looked at a similar fate, in order to secure her spot in Paris, Estrella LOPES SHERRIF required a bronze medal in Abu Dhabi but the eventual -52kg World Champion, Odette GIUFFRIDA (ITA) ended her Olympic voyage in the quarter final, ensuring that Ariane TORO SOLER would be taking the spot for Spain. Soler might sound familiar, as Ariane’s mother, Yolander took the Olympic bronze medal in Atlanta, 1996, and a 7th place in 1992. The lineage continues on the other side for Ariane as her father, José Tomás, also competing in Atlanta.

Ariane TORO SOLER (ESP) © Gabi Juan

It is also worth mentioning the super climb of Tara BABULFATH (SWE/-48kg) who became the youngest Swedish world medallist, and only the second woman to step on the podium. Babulfath will jump up and out of continental quota, securing herself a place in the ‘green zone’.


Author: Thea Cowen