10 May 2023


Doha World Championships Seniors 2023


Day four of the World Judo Championships Doha 2023 welcomed the -81kg and -63kg categories. Big names were already flying around with both of the current world champions, Tato GRIGALASHVILI (GEO) and HORIKAWA Megumi (JPN) in action, and of course equally big names chasing them down. 

As seems to be the theme this week, surprise early round exits were in abundance, number one seed Lucy RENSHALL (GBR) felt the strength of Dutch rising star Joanne VAN LIESHOUT and #6 seed Katharina HAECKER (AUS) was sent flying with Lubjana PIOVESANA’s (AUT) ura nage. For the men, in an unfortunate turn of events, Saeid MOLLAEI (AZE) was eliminated for a head diving infringement. In the same quarter, Olympic medallist Shamil BORCHASHVILI (AUT) had an incredible tough opening contest with Sagi MUKI, the Israeli going through to the next round and the Paris Grand Slam silver medallist, Timo CAVELIUS (GER) defeated the number four seed, Guilherme SCHIMIDT (BRA). 

Sagi MUKI (ISR) defeated Olympic medallist, Shamil BORCHASHVILI (AUT) in the opening rounds. © Gabi Juan

Five-time world champion, Clarisse AGBEGNENOU (FRA) returned to individual competition in the Tel Aviv Grand Slam and this world championships is only event number two. The double Olympic champion made her way through to the semi final against Austria’s Piovesana who debuted in her first senior worlds in Doha. Piovesana returned to competition in her new red-white-red flag this year, most recently securing a fifth place in the Antalya Grand Slam but was on fire today, eventually meeting Agbegnenou. In the quarter final, Piovesana faced Prisca AWITI ALCARAZ (MEX), both former team Great Britain athletes and good friends, and what had potential to be a great contest ended with a head dive for Awiti Alcatraz, however the Mexican representative will fight for bronze. 

Former Team GB athletes; Prisca AWITI ALCAWAZ (MEX) and Lubjana PIOVESANA (AUT) will both fight for world bronze medals. © Gabi Juan

In fact, none of the seeded athletes managed to make it in to the semi finals, as the 2022 junior world champion Van Lieshout blasted her way through her side of the draw, defeating the number one seed Renshall, then major threat TAKAICHI Miku (JPN) before seeing out OZBAS Szofi (HUN) to meet Andreja LESKI (SLO). Leski is the strong replacement for former Olympic champion Tina TRSTENJAK and seems to be doing the job. 

After two long and hard-fought semi finals, Agbegnenou and Leski will once again go head to head for the title, a 2021 rematch. 

2021 World Championship final: Clarisse AGBEGNENOU (FRA) and Andreja LESKI (SLO). © Gabi Juan

All eyes of course were on Tato GRIGALASHVILI of Georgia, the defending world champion, as well as the former world title holder, Matthias CASSE (BEL) hoping for yet another sensational final between the two technical artists. Grigalashvili had a tough time in his quarter final against ‘the other brother’ Shamil’s younger sibling, Wachid BORCHASHVILI (AUT), but came alive in his semi against LEE Joonhwan (KOR). It was quite the wipe out in fact, with the first waza ari scored in 20 seconds, sheer strength lifted Lee off the ground and a second score only fifteen seconds later with a spinning o uchi gari, changing direction to secure his place in the final. 

Tato GRIGALASHVILI (GEO) will be defending his title and the red back patch. © Gabi Juan

This swift move in to the final was so impressive and given Lee’s previous contests, was surprising as this could have been a difficult situation but Grigalashvili wasted no time. It wasn’t so easy for Casse however, going two and a half minutes in golden score with the 2021 world champion, Muki. Eventually, Casse focussed on ne waza and held Muki in osae komi for the full 20 seconds to become senior world finalist for a fourth time. 

Now with this match up will deliver yet another 2021, and incidentally, a 2022 rematch in the -81kg category. 

This also guarantees two gold and two silver medals for Europe, a potential bronze from Muki and Van Lieshout, whereas Piovesana will decide who takes the third bronze with Ozbas. 


Author: Thea Cowen