19 May 2024


World Championships Seniors (Individual+Teams)


Just like that we have three new World Champions. At the same time, it feels as though this World Championships has been a long time coming, but has arrived in a flash. Now the first day of competition has concluded and what a day it has been.

In the -60kg category, Ayub BLIEV (AIN) was unable to compete, and so the only hope for a European medal was left to the 2023 world bronze medallist, Giorgi SARDALASHVILI (GEO). Taking on the Olympic silver medallist, YANG Yung Wei (TPE) was never going to be an easy feat, and right off the bat, Yang set a fast pace. It needn’t have mattered as Sardalashvili managed to keep control, and in to the final seconds, both stood with two shidos and ventured in to golden score. It became an extremely exciting and dynamic contest, the crowd equally as involved in the outcome. After two and a half minutes of golden score, it looked to be all over as Yang secured the osaekomi, but Sardalashvili was not done. After escaping an impossibly strong hold, he was able to counter a weak seoi nage attempt from Yang to become World Champion of the -60kg category at 20 years old, the youngest in Georgian history.

Georgia’s youngest World Champion, Giorgi SARDALASHVILI. © Gabi Juan

The -48kg women opened the final block of the World Judo Championships Abu Dhabi 2024, showing their passion and dedication to the sport in front of esteemed guests including the President of the International Judo Federation, Mr Marius VIZER and President of the European Judo Union, Dr TOTH Laszlo, also IJF Vice President.

First up were Abiba ABUZHAKYNOVA (KAZ) and Tugce BEDER (TUR). The latter, representing the EJU, has had a magical run of things recently, after sparking the flame during the European Judo Championships, narrowly missing out on the bronze medal, she then went on to secure silver and bronze in Grand Slam events. Unfortunately she couldn’t match up to the number two seed in the category from Kazakhstan and settled for a World Championships 5th place. Regardless of the result in the second bronze medal contest, Europe would earn a bronze, either from Tara BABULFATH (SWE) or Catarina COSTA (POR). Both were capable of taking the win, however Babulfath has found her footing in this category as a senior, claiming a Grand Slam gold earlier in the year and today, demonstrated her art in ne waza to become the youngest Swedish world medallist, and the first woman in 38 years.

Țară BABULFATH (SWE) enters the history books for Sweden. © Gabi Juan

Assunta SCUTTO (ITA) had been off her usual pace but today she brought back her tenacity and fiercely fought her way in to the final of the -48kg category against BAVUUDORJ Baasankhuu (MGL). The final head to head was very close, however Scutto attacked with her staple drop sode tsuri komi goshi, only to be countered by Bavuudorj with sumi gaeshi, and with only eight seconds left on the clock. Despite this being her best result to date, Scutto was understandably devastated, falling at the final hurdle, but this was a battle, and not the war, the Olympic Games are so close now that she can take this experience and use it to fuel her next major performance.

Assunta SCUTTO (ITA) © Gabi Juan

Following the -48kg medal ceremony, the -52kg women stepped to the tatami. Amandine BUCHARD (FRA) and PUPP Reka (HUN) were up first, Buchard searching for a fifth world bronze medal. It was taken in the first half of the contest with her kata guruma, unfortunately for Pupp, she was simply unable to find a way back in to the contest to even the score. Mascha BALLHAUS (GER) took on SHIBAISHI Hibiki (JPN) for the second bronze medal, and it was another full four minutes of contest time before someone could be declared winner. Ballhaus has been on fire in the past six months, picking up continental championship, Grand Prix and Grand Slam medals, only to come to Abu Dhabi and secure her first world medal. It took a stretched maki komi from Ballhaus to score against Shibaishi, and the Japanese opponent couldn’t break down the defence, ensuring the bronze medal went to Germany.

Mascha BALLHAUS (GER) © Gabi Juan

Closing day one of the World Judo Championships were top seed of the -52kg category, and last years silver medallist Diyora KELDIYOROVA (UZB) and two-time Olympic medallist, Odette GIUFFRIDA (ITA). It was a blinding performance for Giuffrida in 2023 when she took her first world medal, defeating Distria KRASNIQI (KOS) bronze, and today she walked to the tatami stoic, entirely in control it seemed. Though we usually look for her ballistic seoi nage, today she stunned her opponent with some reactive ashi waza to score the title-winning waza ari.

Odette GIUFFRIDA (ITA) © Gabi Juan


Author: Thea Cowen