Rio 2016 Olympian and European silver medallist Esther Stam has been working with the IBSA team as a commentator for quite sometime. Just like the referees, she has a non-stop view of the event. Therefore, it was ideal to discuss the day 1 technical analysis with her.

“A few years ago, there were less tactical strategies from athletes but now, especially as they get to know each other since the change of the divisions, we can see that there are more and more tactical plays coming into effect. It is not only that they know each other well but the quality of VI judo has improved tremendously in recent years.

Having said that, we have also seen many beautiful throws, especially ashi-waza. We had Nataliya Nikolaychyk (UKR) throwing her opponent Fotima Toiriva (UZB) for ippon literally on the beat of hajime. We have also seen plenty of seoi-nage variations from different grips and angles. I also like that the reaction and counter-attacks have improved.

Overall, ranking leaders and big names still seemed to be dominating until the final block where some fell short but I am sure, come Paris, they will cause trouble for many again.

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