An in-form Anna-Maria Wagner is very special indeed. The German is chased unapologetically by teammates Boehm and Olek and all three of them are inside the world top ten. In Abu Dhabi Wagner occupies pole position while Olek has had to stay at home; only two per nation can attend the world championships in each weight category.

Boehm however, sat in the middle, was present but was thrown beautifully by Pacut-Kloczko in round 3, a swirling uchi-mata-makikomi. That’s the German race over for Olympic qualification at -78 kg. Boehm needed to win more than 1167 points more than Wagner today, in order to have a chance but Wagner is in good shape and Boehm is in the locker room. It’s done!

A bye first, followed by a massive uchi-mata against Niragira (BDI) put Wagner into a third round clash with the Tokyo Olympic champion Shori Hamada (JPN) but she made it look easy, well, as easy as it can look for a 5 minute contest won on penalties. Wagner out-gripped the Japanese competitor and did so confidently. Lee (KOR) then went the same way.

Lee had thrown Kantsavaya (AIN) for ippon with a massive seoi-nage, Cvijic (SRB) with two seoi-otoshis and had beaten Lytvynenko on penalties ahead of that quarter-final with Wagner and she would be a tough nut to crack in the repechage.

Boehm losing out as she did, left the way clear for someone to put their hand up in pool B and it was the Brit who said, ‘me please!’ Emma Reid has been going from strength to strength in recent weeks, taking medals in Dushanbe and Kazakhstan.

Today she threw Jangeldina (KAZ) with koshi-guruma in round one and then held Oeda (THA) for ippon. She countered Steenhuis for a waza-ari and then countered Pacut-Kloczko twice to tech the semi-final.

The semi-final was short-lived, Wagner throwing with o-uchi-gari for the first score and ko-uchi for the second, in a minute and a half. Wagner was into her second world final and will win her 3rd world medal.

Wagner's place in the final is secured.

From pools C and D there was the possibility of an all-French semi-final for Tcheumeo and Malinga but world bronze medallist Bellandi (ITA) and world silver medallist Ma (CHN) or perhaps powerful Ukrainian Yuliia Kurchenko might have something to say about it.

Bellandi did not have an easy day but threw Chala (ECU) for ippon with osoto-gari and then had to wait until golden score to throw Sampaio (POR) fro a waza-ari that was right on the border of the scoring criteria. That put her into a quarter-final against Tcheumeo and offered the first answer to the question. No, there would not be an all-French semi-final because Bellandi both threw the Frenchwoman and then dominated tactically for the 2011 world champion to be penalised three times.

Malonga did make it though. Kurchenko beat Ma at the top of the quarter and then Kurbanbaeva beat Kurchenko. Malonga obliterated everyone, looking like she’d dropped down from a who different league above; grip and throw, grip and throw, almost a nage-komi exercise.

However, the very same Alice Bellandi threw Malonga with a huge osoto-gari to ensure Italy would be represented in the -78 kg world final. An emotional Bellandi had already gone one better than her Doha bronze!

The first bronze medal went to Madeleine Malonga, unaccepting of the request to stay away from the podium. Jeongyun Lee (KOR) had a faultless day other than her meeting with Wagner in their quarter-final. She has it all: pace, technique and immense fitness. Malonga though, she is an experienced, elegant fighter and will use every tool in the shed to get her way.

Lee was the first to score, forcing one of Malonga's shoulder's to the floor with a seoi-otoshi, but gaining that ground so early gave the French champion a lot of time to build a game against her and so she did. With only 20 seconds left on the clock, Lee stepped outside the contest area without an attack in play nad was penalised, a third penalty, handing the medal to Malonga.

The second bronze medal would go to either one of the most decorated athletes of the championships, Audrey Tcheumeo (FRA) or a relative newcomer to the podia of the World Judo Tour, Emma Reid (GBR). Tcheumeo was on the front foot immediately and attacked with an o-uchi to uchi-mata combination, scoring waza-ari and leading straight into kesa-gatame. The clock was on and Emma Reid was aware of just how little time she had left. She pushed into an almighty bridge and rolled Tcheumeo off her and on to her back applying her own kesa-gatame which she held against all the odds for ippon.

Reid said afterwards, "I was looking up at the clock and saw 6 seconds left. I thought I could go for one last effort. Once I realised I had it I was just so determined to hold it for as long as I could. Best. Day. Ever!"

Ahead of the final a relaxed Anna-Maria Wagner was happy to talk about her approach to the final, knowing the Olympic race has already been won. “Today was not about the Olympic ticket. I wanted to give everything fight by fight and be able to use my dominant grip. I only look fight by fight and therefore this is not the final, it’s my 5th fight. The Olympics is still a long way away.“

Wagner stayed totally in control for the first three minutes of the contest, forcing Bellandi to accept two penalties. In the last minute though Bellandi began to solve the gripping and was able to attack with two osoto-gari's that weren't far away from needing the referee's signal. Her mistake was going back to the seoi-otoshi; Wagner knows that situation well and was ready. SHe kept the lapel and whipped it under Bellandi's chin applying a devaastating shime-waza which earned Wagner her second world title. She delivered an incredible day of judo, issuing a statement to the rest of the category about her intentions at this summer's Games.

Medals, cheques and flowers were presented by Mr Benjamin Lakatos, chairman and CEO of MET Group, partner of the IJF, and H.E. Naser Al Budoor, vice president of the UAE Judo Federation.

Final (-78 kg)

Bronze Medal Fights (-78 kg)

See also