It is no secret, the strength of the Asian Judo Union in the lightweight categories, but today they really proved their dominating edge on day one of the world championships here in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
In the -60kg category, one by one the European dominos fell. Of the top four seeds, only Francisco GARRIGOS (ESP) managed to make it to his quarter final while Hungary Grand Slam gold medallist Jorre VERSTRAETEN (BEL) was defeated by Angelo PANTANO (ITA) and 2019 world champion Lukhumi CHKHVIMIANI (GEO) took an early exit at the hands of up and coming Yam WOLCZAK (ISR) who will be competing for the bronze medal against Olympic silver medallist Yung Wei YANG (TPE). He will in fact be the only European athlete in the final block for this weight category, with his stunning performances.
A huge surprise in the -48kg category was the round 3 loss of number one seed and current European champion, Shirine BOUKLI (FRA). Then again, not one of the top four will be making an appearance in the final block, let alone the podium. Catarina COSTA (POR) fell to Katharina MENZ (GER) who battled her way to the semi final against 2021 world bronze medallist Julia FIGUEROA (ESP). The all-European final ensured a medal for the continent. In the last 30 seconds, Menz secured a waza ari score and the 31 year-old will take her first world medal today.
Julia FIGUROA (ESP)
Assunta SCUTTO (ITA)
Young Italian, Assunta SCUTTO, was definitely one to watch coming in to this tournament, and only a loss to TSUNODA Natsumi (JPN) prevented her from taking a place in the semi final and instead will face Figueroa for bronze. Early on she defeated top four athlete, Shira RISHONY (ISR) in their quarter final.
In conclusion, Menz is the only European to secure a place in a final, with an all-European bronze between Scutto and Figueroa in the -48kg category and the 19 year-old Wolczak will continue in his bid for bronze.
The final block will commence at 17:00 local time at live.ijf.org.
Author: Thea Cowen