At the dawn of the third day of competition at the Qazaqstan Barysy Grand Slam 2024, it was still difficult to identify a trend in the rankings by nation. After two days of intense battles, seven countries had already won gold (Italy, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Portugal, Israel, Canada). This proves once again both the universality of judo and undoubtedly in an even more emphasised way currently, the intensity of this Olympic qualification period.

Nobody wants to give up anything. No-one wants to be one of those who won't go to Paris this summer. We have been repeating it for months already, this Olympic cycle still has a large margin of uncertainty although major trends are emerging. If this were not the case, we would not have witnessed events of such quality throughout the qualification period and above all we would not have been able to benefit from the level of the last two events, in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.

The grand slam cycle therefore ended this evening in Astana. Yet, nostalgia does not win over us, quite the contrary. We are all very excited about what is on the horizon. The Abu Dhabi World Championships Seniors 2024 Individuals and Mixed Teams will begin on 19th May. Be ready!

For the second time, the IJF flagship event takes place in an Olympic year. The bet was risky but it turned out to be a great success. Just over 60 days before the Olympic Games, big stories will emerge in Abu Dhabi.

There will definitely be new world champions and a world title counts; it will always count in a sporting career. There will perhaps be past or current world champions who will become one again or who will confirm their status, because they will want to taste this very special scent of victory again. There will also be all those who will take this global rendezvous as ideal preparation for Paris 2024.

We cannot forget that in this context we will witness incredible battles, the most emblematic, although there are many others, will be the one between world numbers one and two in the -57kg category, respectively Christa Deguchi (CAN) and Jessika Klimkait (CAN). Everything will be decided by the evening of the competition in Abu Dhabi. We can only imagine what must be going through the minds of these two exceptional champions. They are writing a page in the history of world judo and all this is happening live.

Kazakhstan was therefore the last grand slam in a long series which took us to the four corners of the world. The sporting richness of the World Judo Tour, its capacity to make the history of world sport, the incredible stories it generates came to an apotheosis in the capital, Astana. No worries though, after the Games and a little well-deserved rest for everyone, we will meet again; the Zagreb Grand Prix 2024 will open its doors in September. We will already have to think about Los Angeles 2028 because this is the very essence of high-level sport; projecting ourselves into the future while making the most of the present and relying on a magnificent past. Let's meet in a few days in Abu Dhabi for the conclusion of this Olympic qualification period!

See also