This has become one of the most hotly contested categories of recent years, several world champions from different Olympic eras coming together to present a champion of champions spectacular at every meeting.

On the Olympic ranking list, which is a little different from the World Ranking List as it already has points that will not be included in the final qualification tally removed, the 1, 2, 3 and 4 are Lanir (ISR), Bellandi (ITA), Wagner (GER) and Boehm (GER). They are all in Tashkent!

However, while 3 of the 4 made it to the final block, the world number one Lanir didn’t, leaving in 7th place, beaten by Posvite (FRA) with two throws and then by Germany’s Alina Boehm, with an o-uchi-gari at one and a half minutes.

Posvite (FRA) looked impressive against Lanir (ISR) in Tashkent.

Boehm was having an excellent morning, throwing and submitting her way to the quarter-final where it all came unstuck. Portugal’s Patricia Sampaio threw Boehm in golden score, dropping her into the repechage to face the Doha world champion. Having won that contest, her next was either to be relished as a big opportunity or perhaps completely the reverse.

Anna-Maria Wagner looked unshakable from the first ‘hajime’ of the day. She took out Shmeleva (AIN), Van Heemst (NED) and world silver medallist Zhenzhao Ma (CHN) to reach her semi-final but there she fell foul of the Japanese entrant, Rika Takayama, 5th seed. Takayama was enjoying a day of giant-slaying as she was also the reason for Bellandi’s exit from the golden race, holding her down for the full 20 seconds requirement to register her ippon.

Wagner's quarter-final win.

Much has already been said about the German domestic rivalry for the Paris ticket, Wagner and Boehm sitting next to each other on the world and Olympic ranking lists, one a world champion and the other the current European champion. Would any of us want to be in Germany’s shoes? Considering the future of women’s judo in Germany, it is perhaps the best problem to have!

Wagner's medal-winning throw.

The first bronze medal contest was therefore an all-German affair and with very high stakes indeed, not just practically for the sake of the Olympic Games but psychologically for these two athletes. Wagner put Boehm under so much pressure with the awkward top cross grip and dominant position. It didn’t take long for her to score either, using o-uchi-gari to put significant space between them. Boehm couldn’t respond to the pressure at all and although the gap didn’t widen on the scoreboard, there was clear disparity of performance and the bronze went home with Wagner. What that means for Olympic selection remains to be seen and perhaps it doesn’t have too much impact but time is running out for Boehm to catch her teammate if she wants a shot at the Paris Games.

Boehm vs Wagner.

The second bronze medal would go to either Bellandi (ITA) or Sampaio (POR) and it was a very close fight for the first 2 minutes, both attacking, contributing to the high pace on show. At full time Sampaio had two penalties while Bellandi still had a clean sheet and so the plan was clear for the Italian: to keep attacking without making mistakes and the win would almost certainly be hers. She didn't have an easy day but she reached the podium, adding to Lombardo's gold and Parlati's bronze for Italy.

Bronze for Bellandi (ITA).

The final was a dynamic contest with Posvite doing all she could to dominate the gripping phases. She attacked well and with power but eventually Takayama found the space she needed and threw with o-goshi for gold.

The -78 kg final.

Final (-78 kg)

Bronze Medal Fights (-78 kg)

Medals, cheques and flowers were presented by Mr Vlad Marinescu, IJF Director General, and Mr Rashid Talipov, responsible for the Office of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan and president of the Uzbekistan Karate Federation
See also