20 May 2024


World Championships Seniors (Individual+Teams)


Abu Dhabi played host not only to the second day of the 2024 World Championships, but saw Olympic dreams come true for a number of athletes.

Starting in the -66kg category, by the quarter finals, Matteo PIRAS (ITA) had confirmed his Olympic spot, but battled his way through to the bronze medal contest against current European Champion, VAZHA MARGVELASHVILI (GEO). It was a tough fight for the pair, but Margvelashvili showed true class with a tight sasae tsuri komi ashi, wheeling his opponent over for his second world bronze, his first was in 2017.

On the other side of the draw, Finland continued to show their growth in the men’s categories, with Luukas SAHA demonstrating his great talent, which progressed in to his bronze contest. Before walking out, he thought maybe even if he took 5th place, it would be enough to qualify for Paris, but by very small, and uncomfortable margins, however he can relax a little more now, secure with his world bronze. Competing against Nurmali EMOMALI (TJK) was no easy feat but he wrapped up his opponent in ne waza and even though he was strong in the hold, his opponent submitted. This is the first world medal for Finland since 1981, putting Saha in the history books.

Defending -73kg World Champion, Nils STUMP, made history for Switzerland last year and has only recently been back on form, claiming the Grand Slam gold in Dushanbe only a couple of weeks ago, however he was undone by LAVJARGAL Ankhzaya (MGL) in the quarter final, sending him to repechage. Coming back by defeating Makhmadbek MAKHMADBEKOV (AIN), he faced Igor WANDTKE (GER) in the bronze medal contest. Wandtke had an incredible day but lost out to current European Champion, Hidayat HEYDAROV (AZE).

Stump may wear the red back patch, but Wandtke is an intelligent competitor and has experience on his side. Wandtke attempted movement for tomoe nage but lost his balance, giving Stump the opportunity to hook with ko soto to score waza ari, and with that in his pocket, Stump next attacked with sasae tsuri komi ashi to finish the contest and take another world medal.

Finally, rounding out day two was the final of the -73kg category; Heydarov and ISHIHARA Tatsuki (JPN), the WRL #1 against #35. The 22 year-old Ishihara began his international takeover in the World University Games in 2023, securing gold, then moved on to the IJF World Judo Tour to claim yet another gold in the Paris Grand Slam this year, followed by more success in the Asian Championships. Today, he moved through his opponents to meet favourite, Heydarov.

Heydarov was countered by Ishihara who put the first score on the board, using his strong te waza to guide the Azeri athlete down, but then, in the ultimate save, with only ten seconds left on the clock, Heydarov scored a stunning ippon with kata guruma. The entire block of the Azerbaijan delegation were on their feet celebrating their champion and personal coach, Olympic Champion, Elnur MAMMADLI waiting for his protege! The history-making Heydarov not only took a third European title last month but can now call himself the World Champion of the -73kg category, right ahead of the Olympic Games, only one more title to collect.

Hidayat HEYDAROV (AZE) © Gabi Juan

Aside from the European success on day two, the Canadian head to head must be mentioned. For the last two cycles, Christa DEGUCHI and Jessica KLIMKAIT have gone up against each other for the Olympic spot. Not only were they in competition, but they sit as #1 and #2 in the world respectively. In 2021, Klimkait sealed the deal for the Olympic place in Tokyo, but today, she lost out in the semi final, meaning that the higher ranked, defending World Champion, and finalists Deguchi had booked her ticket to Paris. After what can only be explained as impressive, Deguchi made it through to the final against HUH Mimi (KOR), and the contest was concluded by shidos after an eight-minute golden score.

Christa DEGUCHI (CAN) © Gabi Juan


Author: Thea Cowen