What We See / IJF.org

Four tournaments, like four irrefutable proofs of market volatility. Anyone can win, and there are few truly safe securities. If the World Judo Tour has shown anything, it’s that betting on winning judo is a risky business when the moment comes, and you better know your business.

From Lisbon to Antalya, via Paris and Tel Aviv, is one Grand Prix and three Grand Slams. They have picked up a lot of points in a short period of time, representing a chance to move into the world rankings before the Olympic games begin. We’ve seen a lot of movement, slippery slopes and new impulses. We also saw that the Old Guard did not want to give up their privileges. This is the funniest thing so far.

Indeed, a new generation is emerging, with a knife between the teeth, without any complications. They are young people from Georgia, Hungary, France and Mongolia, for example. They are countries that embrace the future and respect the present. They understand that investing for profit takes time and patience.

Szofi Ozbas Blue Judo

There are cases of Szofi Ozbas, Léa Fontaine or Giorgi Terashvili. They are the result of veterans, they are the most experienced, they watch and admire them, but they also want to overthrow them. This is called the natural evolution of things.

We are relieved to witness the re-emergence of Anna-Maria Wagner, who seems to have overcome her fears. The best thing is her transformation, as the German impressed when she was fit, but in Antalya she must learn to use her courage to win, in a somber final she dominated in the weariness imposed on her by her will.

Another important fact is the resurrection of Marie-Eve Gahié. The French woman seemed disoriented, reluctant, and judo was well below her level. Likewise, her eternal nemesis, Marco Pinot, appears to have taken the same approach. The victory of the first man against the second man opened a new chapter in the eternal showdown between the two for Olympic tickets.

Giorgi Terashvili in white judo

Speaking of evolution, this time there is a major leap in quality. Jorge Fonseca got us used to him shining in the big events and disappointing in other competitions. His victories in Lisbon and Antalya reflected the Portuguese’s apparent dominance, and he finally seemed content to ring the bell once a year. Fonseca won, he was like a beast, and he showed tremendous power that, at the moment, no one can offset this year.

We haven’t seen the Japanese except in Paris, and in France they’ve shown a team that oscillates between the A, B and C tiers. There they won a lot of gold and it’s a sure thing they’re always now, not thinking about them would be a sad mistake. But the absence of any Olympic champions, apart from the achievements at the national level, is a sign, but not an indisputable fact.

Anna-Maria Wagner in Blue Judo

What is clear at this point is that these categories remain more or less the same, although progress on new commitments is evident. It’s also a fact that the best, with a few notable exceptions, come when they really need to, at least so far this year. All of this tells us that the World Championships in Tashkent in October will look great because it’s on the calendar when the really serious things start. A common title and a handful of points could be decisive for the 2024 Paris Olympics. The good news is that judo athletes know it all. They know when and where to put all the meat on the grill. The problem is that reality often spoils a wonderful theory, so surprises can arise.

And this is just the beginning.

Jorge Fonseca in white judo


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