After a successful first day for Japan, taking the gold medals in the -48kg and -60kg categories, we were all left wondering if the Olympic champion ABE siblings could continue the Japanese clean up of gold medals. Then again, the Europeans were on much better form today and finished the preliminaries with a potential for five medals from the -52kg and -66kg categories.
Denis VIERU (MDA) took on ABE Hifumi (JPN) in the -66kg semi final, the only European to make it to this stage. A late waza ari score from Abe put Vieru in a position where he was forced to chase after the win but was unable to do so against the Olympic champion.
In the opposite semi final, it was a head to head between current world champion MARUYAMA Joshiro (JPN) who had executed perfect and impressive uchi mata techniques throughout his preliminaries and AN Baul (KOR). Though it didn’t end with an ippon score for the Japanese, he went in to the final against Abe. The -66kg final will be greatly anticipated following their legendary contest that decided who would be taking the Olympic place in Tokyo last year.
Vasha MARGVELASHVILI (GEO) suffered at the hands of Maruyama in his quarter but defeated Baruch SHMAILOV (ISR) in the repechage to stay in with a chance for bronze against Vieru. On the other side of the draw, Elios MANZI (ITA) will also compete for the bronze against An.
As for the -52kg category, we saw a repeat of the Olympic final between ABE Uta (JPN) and Amandine BUCHARD (FRA). Though Abe has the lions share of wins between the pair, she was shocked in the Osaka Grand Slam 2019, suffering defeat in the final, the Japanese is not unbeatable.
However in this semi final, a score was earned by Abe within 15 seconds, a missed opportunity at uchi mata lead to a maki komi attempt and the waza ari. Within the last minute, the fire sparked in Buchard and she levelled the playing field, taking the contest in to golden score. It became a gruelling battle, Abe picking up two shidos after almost seven minutes of the contest. Seconds after the issuing of her second shido, she took the win and place in the final with an uchi mata-o uchi gari switch.
Adjacent, -48kg Olympic champion Distria KRASNIQI (KOS) took on Olympic bronze medallist Chelsie GILES (GBR), who as per usual has been dominant with her ne waza skills today. She wasn’t able to transition to the ground against Krasniqi, but equally the Kosovo athlete was also fighting against the height of the British. It wasn’t until golden score, Giles finally managed to make use of her talents on the ground to take the place in her first world championship final against Abe.
Krasniqi will be meet Gefen PRIMO (ISR) and Buchard with BISHRELT Khorloodoi (MGL) for the bronze medals.
So in the end we will see if the Abe’s can repeat their Olympic duo success or if Maruyama will seek revenge and Giles take her first world title.
Author: Thea Cowen