The Tashkent Grand Slam 2024 has just ended and the World Judo Tour caravan is already heading to Austria for the Upper Austria Grand Prix which will take place from 8th to 10th March in Linz. Before focusing on this new important stage in the race for Olympic qualification, let's take a look back at the lessons learned from last weekend.

With 495 judoka entered, representing 68 nations, the grand slam in Uzbekistan was a good vintage, like all the first events of the year 2024. It must be said that the two major events of the calendar which are looming on the horizon have had something to whet the appetite. The medals and points distributed have a special flavour this year. The presence of large delegations, with many of their number ones included, is further proof that each competition can play a crucial role when is comes to counting in a few months' time.

it is a country which nevertheless already has the guarantee of having their 14 athletes present in Paris this summer, which ends at the top of the delegation ranking in Uzbekistan, France. A guarantee of participation does not mean that you should not prepare and above all that you should not do everything to get into the top 8 which will offer a perhaps more lenient draw this summer. The leader of the French team present in Tashkent, Clarisse Agbegnenou, understood this perfectly. After her victory, the six-time world champion and double Olympic champion moved up to 3rd place in the world rankings, just like Amandine Buchard in her category. Agbegnenou has already been announced for the next Abu Dhabi World Championships for perhaps a seventh world crown! Unbelievable!

The host country, which for a long time sailed in 2nd position in the nations ranking, finally finished in an honourable and respectable third place, just behind Japan, who moved up a notch thanks to the last minute victory of Hyoga Ota at +100 kg. Uzbekistan is now one of the great judo nations! The regular performance of men and the rise in power of women promises good years ahead for a country which has made judo one of its centres of interest.

During this grand slam, we enjoyed following the fights of certain countries, sometimes from a distance but often even closer. The most notable example was the match between the two Germans Anna-Maria Wagner and Alina Boehm at -78 kg. Here we have two athletes, respectively 3rd and 7th in the ranking list, whose ticket for the Games, if it is almost validated for the country, is not yet firm and definitive for the athlete. The only consequence of this competition is to raise the level in a category which already does not lack interest.

In this very active off-season, which is ultimately an off-season in name only if we consider the events to come, we can see the rise in power of judoka whose peak form will clearly arrive during the world championships and during the Olympic Games. It is still too early to be at 100% capacity but it will be too late in a few months if preparation has not been optimal. We also know that the Games always represents a somewhat special moment, during which anything can happen. The favourites can collapse, the underdogs suddenly explode. Let us remember, to convince ourselves, the title of Fabio Basile (ITA) in Rio in 2016. Not being one of the top seeds, he won in superb fashion, winning the Olympic grail so coveted by all.

We will remember from Tashkent some great confirmations like that of Matthias Casse (BEL). Already world number one, the former world champion did not need the points from Tashkent but he needed to come up against international competition again and again in a very dense category. We will note the nice surprise, Theodoros Tselidis (GRE), who was the first astonished to win in -90 kg and whose humility was a pleasure to see.

The number of athletes and nations participating in Linz is even higher than in Tashkent, which promises us three exciting days of competition. Follow all the action on

See also