In the end, we could only celebrate medals for Europe in the -73kg category as Timna NELSON LEVY (ISR) was unable to secure the bronze against the 2021 world champion, Jessica KLIMKAIT (CAN) in the -57kg category. Sending Nelson Levy to the bronze medal contest was the 2016 Rio Olympic champion, Rafaela SILVA (BRA) who finally took the world title against FUNAKUBO Haruka (JPN), putting an end to Japan’s gold medal takeover. Silva also took the world title at home in Rio but it has been nine years since that incredible achievement when she was only 21 years old. It would seem she planted the seed as TSEND-OCHIR Tsogtbaatar (MGL) defeated HASHIMOTO Soichi (JPN) in the -73kg final.
Rafaela SILVA (BRA).
TSEND-OCHIR Tsogtbaatar (MGL).
Instead, we looked to the men’s weight where a definite medal was coming, either from Tohar BUTBUL (ISR) or Hidayat HEYDAROV (AZE) and then a potential from the 2021 world silver medallist in the -66kg category, Manuel LOMBARDO (ITA).
Lombardo took on Daniel CARGNIN (BRA) in his bronze medal contest, and the pair know each other well. Cargnin took an Olympic bronze in Tokyo while the pair were both competing in the -66kg category and as it happened, defeated Lombardo in the quarter final. One year on in the Zagreb Grand Prix, with both now in the -73kg category, the Italian came out on top.
Today, it was the Brazilian’s turn to take the win. Coming directly after the glorious performance of Silva, it was a tremendous achievement for this strong judo nation.
Astoundingly, Europe only took one medal on the second day of competition and it came from Heydarov.
To be honest, in one year being European champion and world medallist is a really good feeling, I came here for gold so it was hard to accept the loss, I felt like I wanted to stop but my coach spoke with me and gave me the motivation to continue and win.
I felt like I was back and at my best in the European championships so I was comfortable and ready for these world championships and now I continue to work to get more medals.
In the bronze contest between Heydarov and Bulbul, the pair were matched and went in to golden score, seemingly with plenty still to give. The determination and will to stand on that podium was great and the delegations also allowed for the arena to come to life. It was another bitter sweet moment for the Israeli team, settling for a fifth place but the Azeri current European champion worked hard to transition in to osae komi in order to become the bronze medallist.
When I woke up this morning I had full confidence, I was dreaming being world champion, something happened that caused me to lose but my confidence was always there.
Author: Thea Cowen