Europe mightn’t have taken the lions share of the medals on the final day of individual competition nevertheless there was some fantastic action in the +100kg and +78kg categories.
Unfortunately for the continent, the medals in the women’s category were split evenly between Japan and Brazil. In the men’s +100kg category, 2020 European champion Tamerlan BASHAEV (RJF) took the best result for Europe with his amazing silver medal, his first in a senior world championships.
It wasn’t a necessarily easy route, the top seed injured his foot in his first contest, but once he was taped up, the team doctor had him back in action, executing huge and devastating techniques. As one of the shortest in the category he really uses his stature to his advantage, able to fly in under his opponents.
Before reaching the final however he needed to beat Georgian, Gela ZAALISHVILI. In the Tel Aviv Grand Slam, Bashaev explains that he made a huge mistake and today his goal was to be much better controlled against his opponent. He was unable to successfully land an attack on Bashaev which added penalties to the score board. With Zaalishvili now in a pressured position, the RJF athlete took advantage to score a second time and take his place against KAGUERA Kokoro (JPN).
Japan have been at the top of the leader board, and Kaguera wanted to be the one to add yet another gold to match a first and second place already earned in the +78kg category today. It was, as expected, a brilliant match up, a score finally awarded to Kaguera with very little time left on the clock. Bashaev is not a defeatist, he fought to the bitter end and followed his opponent to the ground, the option of ne waza his last hope as the seconds ticked away. The crowd were on their feet with it looking like he might be able to secure osae komi but it wasn’t to be. Bashaev was disappointed to be so close to the gold and narrowly miss out on the world title but he made it very clear, he is young, he will be back, and the title will be his.
In an all-European bout, Zaalishvili and Yakiv KHAMMO (UKR) came head to head for a world bronze medal, the latter already with one from Tokyo in 2019. The pair haven’t come together in competition before and knew each other little, except that both were strong fighters and couldn’t afford to relax. The pair are exciting athletes to watch, colossal throws never too far away but today it was all ion favour of the Ukrainian as he managed to score twice to take the bronze, his first world medal since 2015.
The other bronze medal in Tokyo went to Roy MEYER (NED) and he was here to double up on his achievements. Despite having never been able to defeat his opponent Rafael SILVA (BRA) in the past, something was different today. His tactics were perfected, similarly to Fonseca, his coach the calming element he needed to ensure he stuck to the plan in order to achieve success. Although, he admits, he hasn’t quite found the right technique to take on the giant that is Silva, he knew he was in better condition and that this would be the deciding element.
It was a perfect end to the week of individual competition and tomorrow we will see seven European teams; France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Russian Judo Federation and Ukraine take on the rest of the world to decide who will be the best in the world and of course to gain some Olympic ranking points.
Author: Thea Cowen