What a day for Europe on Thursday getting the full monty of 8 medals in the categories U63kg for women and U81kg for men. Two full European podiums is unique for Europe.
World number one Yarden GERBI (ISR) and world number two CLARISSE AGBEGNENOU (FRA) were on an inevitable collision course from the outset as the two outstanding talents in the category this year. GERBI went ahead with a yuko from an o-goshi and after a moment’s pause she moved into ne-waza and worked her way into a position to catch the French ace with shime-waza from which there was no escape for the 20-year-old European champion. GERBI defeated ABE Kana (JPN) with a ruthless piece of shime-waza in the semi-final while at the same stage AGBEGNENOU had prevailed against teammate and two-time world champion Gevrise EMANE (FRA) with a harai-goshi earning ippon.
AGBEGNENOU said: “I was disappointed because I came for gold, I was previously world number one and was one of the favourites. I had the impression that I did everything possible but obviously something wrong happened. I was surprised by the first attack and just don’t know what happened. Tomorrow I will be happy, I’m a little sad now and really tired. I really concentrated and focused on fight but GERBI was very strong and opportunistic and that was enough.”
The first bronze medal was won by veteran EMANE against 23-year-old European bronze medallist Tina TRSTENJAK (SLO) who had Urska ZOLNIR (SLO), Olympic champion at this weight, coaching her matside. The Slovenian walked into a seoi-nage for ippon on the edge of the competition area as EMANE showed her quality by winning the fourth World Championship medal of her outstanding career. The second bronze medal was won by 2011 World Championship bronze medallist Anicka VAN EMDEN (NED) who bested World Judo Masters winner ABE Kana (JPN). VAN EMDEN broke the deadlock by scoring a waza-ari from an ippon seoi-nage before slowing down and earning a shido for passivity. ABE backed off and both judoka received a shido for passivity but that completed the scoring and infringements as the Dutch judoka won the Netherlands’ second medal of the competition following the -73kg bronze won by Dex ELMONT (NED) on Wednesday.
EMANE said: “I came here for gold but I’m not disappointed, I’m again on the podium at a World Championship. The changes in the rules were difficult for me, I had to adjust. I don’t feel like retiring at all. I don’t know what the future holds but I really enjoyed today and I’m happy for Clarisse earning a silver medal. For me it was definitely like a transition today between two generations. I’ll be competing in the future but its difficult to say when and how at the moment but I still feel really good.”
-81kg: PIETRI leads the way for France
Junior world champion LOIC PIETRI was at his mercurial best as he climbed to the top of the sport with a win against European champion Avtandili TCHRIKISHVILI (GEO) in the -81kg final. TCHRIKISHVILI, who won his semi-final with a juji-gatame against Olympic bronze medallist NIFONTOV, made the brighter start as he opened the scoring with a yuko as the resourceful Georgian countered a drop seoi-nage attempt by stepping off the attack and pushing his rival onto his back. European Championship bronze medallist PIETRI responded with a waza-ari before being penalised with a shido for a false attack. TCHRIKISHVILI attacked with new vigour and came close to scoring from an uchi-mata but failed to summon enough power to throw the determined Frenchman. PIETRI was in danger as the penalties continued to flow as he was penalised for not taking a grip and a false attack. However, he held on to his lead and jumped for joy as he left the tatami to the delight of his teammates and the French fans who have typically travelled in good numbers.
PIETRI said: “I really came here for gold, I knew I was a man for this type of championships. I’m not always mentally prepared as I’d like but for this event I was totally focused. Today I felt more capable of relaxing and I had perfect preparation. I stayed focused today and I’m still realising that I am now senior world champion which is exactly what I wished for.”
The first bronze medal was won by Moscow Grand Slam bronze medallist Ivan VOROBEV (RUS) who graced a World Championship medal podium for the first time as teammate NIFONTOV could not compete due to injury. The second bronze medal was won by the tenacious Alain SCHMITT (FRA) who produced a career-best performance which culminated with victory over Asian Championship bronze medallist Uuganbaatar OTGONBAATAR (MGL). Baku Grand Slam silver medallist SCHMITT started well as OTGONBAATAR was penalised with a shido for passivity. The Frenchman drove forward and scored a waza-ari from a morote-eri seoi-nage to clinch the final place on the medal podium alongside teammate PIETRI.
SCHMITT said: “I had really good preparation with no injuries which was my main concern over past few years. I was really well prepared and I’m very happy to be part of the French judo family that today took four medals today. Every fight was something really big because we all wanted to step onto the podium.”
World number one Victor PENALBER (BRA) was humbled by eventual winner PIETRI in the Brazilian’s third contest to the shock of the home crowd who arrived at the Maracanazinho full of expectation.
PENALBER said: “Every time you lose you think has not done enough. Victory hides mistakes always happen, and defeat exposes these errors, so the competition was very valid. Judo is that, is the pursuit of perfection, we’re never going to make it, but we have to get as close as possible.”
The story of the opening round was the surprise defeat of World Judo Masters silver medallist NAGASHIMA Keita (JPN) as he laboured to a premature exit against relative unknown Jesenko CETIC (SLO). NAGASHIMA was aiming to maintain Japan’s perfect start to the men’s individual competition as the table-topping team were three for three after TAKATO won the -60kg title, EBINUMA won the -66kg gold and ONO clinched the -73kg crown on Wednesday. The Paris Grand Slam bronze medallist was also striving to end a barren run for Japan in the -81kg category having never won a world title at this weight. The Japanese judoka was penalised twice for passivity while his opponent CETIC, who showed a steely determination, was only penalised once for the same offence. CETIC followed up with a win over PINEDA Felipe (Colombia) but bowed out of the competition after losing out for a place in the quarter-final against Marcel OTT (AUT).
The World Championships continue with the categories U70kg and U90kg on Friday.
text by IJF Media