23 May 2024


World Championships Seniors (Individual+Teams)


Incredibly, we have reached the end of the fifth and final day of the individual World Judo Championships 2024 in Abu Dhabi. With only one day left for the Mixed Teams, European Judo were keen to see if our athletes could best the seven titles won in Doha in 2023. Already, seven were in the bag, but with three finalists in each country, the excitement was building. A host of former European, World and Olympic Champions came together in the -100kg, +78kg and +100kg to give us another day of sensational judo.

First to enter the Mubadala Arena were the -100kg men, and both competing for their first senior world title were the number one seed, Shady ELNAHAS (CAN) and 2023 European Champion, Zelym KOTSOIEV (AZE). Kotsoiev already had a taste for the world title in 2017 as a junior, but with two senior bronze medals in 2022 and 2023, it was only natural progression that he would be competing in the final this year. There were already big celebrations for Azerbaijan with Hidayat HEYDAROV winning the -73kg title earlier in the week, and they desperately wanted a repeat performance. ‘ZELYM ZELYM’ was chanted by the huge delegation as the finalists approached the tatami, and no way of predicting how this would go, with a 2:2 record. Kotsoeiv was ready for this final, and put an early waza ari on the board with a reverse tani otoshi, there were a few close moments but this was the title decider, and also decided the number one seed position for the Olympic Games.

For the first bronze medal, the 2023 Junior World Champion ARAI Dota (JPN) took on two-time Senior World Champion Jorge FONSECA (POR). Earlier in the day, Fonseca had defeated two of his opponents in the first exchange, but in the final he was on the receiving end of a waza ari score, Arai devastating him with uchi mata. Unfortunately for Fonseca, he couldn’t find an answer for the young Japanese opponent, who successfully executed uchi mata a second time for his first senior world medal.

Another double World Champion, albeit in the -90kg category, Nikoloz SHERAZADISHVILI (ESP) came in for the next bronze medal against Kyle REYES (CAN). Reyes found himself in the same position as Jessica KLIMKAIT (CAN) in the -57kg category, losing out on the Olympic spot, but having to come back to fight for bronze. ‘Gruelling’ doesn’t quite convey how exhausting the golden score in this contest, and after almost nine minutes of contest time, Reyes picked up the third shido and Sherazadishvili claimed a world medal in his new category. Not only that but this result will give Sherazadishvili enough points to be seeded in the Olympic Games.


Another European finalist with two senior bronze medals was Kayra OZDEMIR (TUR) in the +78kg category. Considering this is likely her final World Championships, it is all the more special that this is also the first time she will be fighting for gold. Standing in her way was TOMITA Wakabe (JPN). The +78kg final was short lived, with Tomita throwing with ashi guruma for the waza ari score, and then transitioned in to the osae komi for the ten seconds and gold medal.

Asya TAVANO (ITA) walked out for the bronze medal but was unable to score against KIM Hayun (KOR) who eventually took the win, nevertheless, Tavano will take 720 points forward with her fifth place finish. It was unknown whether or not Hilal OZTURK (TUR) would manage the bronze medal contest after picking up what looked to be a serious injury in the semi final, however she came out against XU Shiyan (CHN) to see if she could secure a medal and join her team mate on the podium. Ozturk was digging deep and a makikomi put waza ari on the score for her, and managed the contest well despite having two shidos against her name as well. The clock counted down and Ozturk took her first senior world medal, and it is worth noting that the 22 year old has been in the final block of all seven events she has competed in in 2024.

The final block of the +100kg category was missing only one man from the 2021 Olympic podium, Teddy RINER (FRA) who is preparing for the Olympic Games at home in Paris, with gold medallist Lukas KRPALEK (CZE) taking on bronze winner, Tamerlan BASHAEV (AIN) for the world bronze, that left silver medallist, Guram TUSHISHVILI (GEO) to compete in todays final, against KIM Minjong (KOR). Quickly, Tushishvili, who was looking for a second world title, picked up two shidos. Tushishvili was under pressure and forced to attack, which Kim countered and held his opponent to claim the second title for Korea this week.

Guram TUSHISHVILI (GEO) © Gabi Juan

Krpalek already has World and Olympic titles in the -100kg and +100kg, but in the bronze medal contest he was facing Bashaev, the slayer of champions. On this occasion, Krpalek was really struggling to find a way in against Bashaev who is much shorter in stature, but uses this to his advantage, and he did just that. The Czech star took a high grip and though it looked as if Bashaev was simply defending, he was setting up his position to enter for seoi nage, scoring waza ari. With no changes following the score, Bashaev claimed the medal today. Alisher YUSPOV (UZB) defeated Andy GRANDA (CUB) for the second +100kg bronze medal.

Tamerlan BASHAEV (AIN) © Gabi Juan


Author: Thea Cowen