The absence of defending champions Teddy Riner (FRA) and Inal Tasoev (AIN) meant that the +100 kg category at the Abu Dhabi World Championships 2024 was as competitive as ever. With the world title guaranteed to change hands, the questions at the start of day five were: would one of the three former world champions present regain their title? Would one of the four former world medallists present go one step further and top the podium at a world championship for the first time? Or would number 1 seed Temur Rakhimov (TJK) finally fulfil his potential, having previously held the world number one ranking? Naturally, we had to wait for the final to have all the answers.
World champion, Minjong Kim (KOR)

In pool A, 2023 world bronze medallist and number eight seed Alisher Yusupov (UZB) blasted past the opposition to win through to the semi-final. He first turned and held Azamat Chotchaev (BRN) using kuzure-kami-shiho-gatame in round two, before throwing and holding Losseni Kone (GER) using sumi-gaeshi and yoko-shiho-gatame, respectively, to score ippon in just 23 seconds.

Yusupov faced Rakhimov in their quarter-final; the Tajik giant had started well, defeating current All-Japan champion Hyoga Ota (JPN) in round 2. However, Yusupov continued, throwing his opponent with uki-waza, before holding with yoko-shiho-gatame once more to seal the deal.

Semi-final between Tushishvili and Yusupov

The quarter-final from pool B was another clash of the titans, as two Tokyo Olympic medallists, Guram Tushishvili and Tamerlan Bashaev, faced off for a place in the semi-final. Tushishvili had already defeated Mohammed El Mehdi Lili (ALG) and Ibrahim Tataroglu (TUR) comfortably in the earlier rounds, while Bashaev was made to work hard by Karl Priilinn Turk (EST) and Kacper Szczurowski (POL), but the neutral athlete eventually threw both for ippon. The quarter-final was decided by an uchi-mata from the Georgian which scored waza-ari 16 seconds in and although both players continued to attack consistently throughout the fight, Bashaev was unable to reply effectively.

The semi-final between Tushishvili and Yusupov was over in less than two minutes but there was no shortage of action. Yusupov struck first using ko-soto-gake to score waza-ari but Tushishvili levelled the scores in the next exchange using soto-makikomi. A counter from Tushishvili 40 seconds later gave him the second waza-ari and the victory, taking him into his first world final since he claimed the gold medal in 2018.

Pool C saw the two other former world champions Lukas Krpalek and Andy Granda progress to fight each other in the quarter-final. Krpalek’s round two opponent unfortunately had to withdraw due to injury and in round three he used his trademark ne-waza skills to turn and hold Vito Dragic (SLO) with tate-shiho-gatame. Meanwhile, Granda took tactical victories over Bubacar Mane (GBS) and Magomedomar Magomedomarov (UAE). In the final minute of what was a close quarter-final, Krpalek took Granda backwards using tani-otoshi and quickly locked in another tate-shiho-gatame to move into his sixth world championship semi-final.

Krpalek (CZE) vs Kim (KOR)

The dominant force in pool D was the 2022 world bronze medallist Minjong Kim (KOR). He cruised through the preliminaries to join Krpalek in the semi-final, first taking a tactical victory over Yevheniy Balyevskyy (UKR) in round two. He followed this in round three by scoring waza-ari and then ippon against 2022 European champion Jur Spijkers (NED), the former with ko-soto-gake within 30 seconds and the latter using tani-otoshi. In the quarter-final the Korean met Marius Fizel (SVK) and scored ippon in under two minutes with a lethal o-soto-otoshi to ko-soto-gari combination.

Krpalek led the head-to-head 2-1 over Kim prior to the event but the Korean levelled the scores in Abu Dhabi in their semi-final. He threw the Czech legend with tani-otoshi in the first exchange of the golden score period to score waza-ari and book a place in his first ever world final.

Final, Guram Tushishvili (GEO) vs Minjong Kim (KOR)

The final was a tactical masterclass from Kim. He outgripped Tushishvili from the first “hajime,” forcing him into three crucial mistakes. The Georgian was penalised twice in the first two minutes, first for a false attack and then for illegal grip breaking. After a couple of strong attacks from Kim, Tushishvili knew he had to come forward. He attacked from a poor position and Kim sidestepped him, landing in yoko-shiho-gatame, holding him down with no resistance for 20 seconds to score ippon. The 23-year-old, already a fixture of the IJF World Judo Tour, claims his first world title and the second for the Republic of Korea at this event.

After the final, Guraqm Tushishvili said, “We have our plan ready for the next few weeks. I really felt the Georgian team and fans with me and it helped a lot. I know they’ll be with me all the way to Paris. We are ready!"

Final, Guram Tushishvili (GEO) and Minjong Kim (KOR)

Bashaev (AIN) ended Rakhimov’s hopes of a first world medal in their repechage contest, throwing the 26-year-old with a rising seoi-nage which scored ippon. Bashaev went on to face Krpalek (CZE) for the first of the bronze medals. In the opening minutes, Bashaev made the stronger attacks in the standing phases, while Krpalek preferred to attack on the ground. Neither could find a breakthrough until, with 40 seconds remaining, Bashaev launched an uchi-mata attack which scored waza-ari. Krpalek couldn’t find a response in time and Bashaev earned his second world medal, following his silver from 2021.

Bronze medal contest, Andy Granda (CUB) vs Alisher Yusupov (UZB)
Bronze medal contest, Tamerlan Bashaev (AIN) vs Lukas Krpalek (CZE)

Granda (CUB) took on Yusupov (UZB) for the second bronze medal after he defeated Fizel in the repechage contest. The Uzbek fighter settled the contest in just 70 seconds. He pulled his Cuban opponent in closely and threw using yoko-guruma to score waza-ari, before pinning him down using yoko-shiho-gatame to earn a second waza-ari. With that, Yusupov took his second world bronze medal in a row and the second medal for Uzbekistan at the event.

Medals, cheques and flowers were presented by Mr Carlos Zegarra, Vice President of the International Judo Federation and President of the Panamerican Judo Confederation, and Mr Eissa bin Huwaiden, Board Member of the UAE Judo Federation

Final (+100 kg)

Bronze Medal Fights (+100 kg)

See also