Dicko is an immovable force! The Frenchwoman arrived in Astana without any desire to play; a message to anyone who wants to take her on that she is more than ready.
Dicko (FRA) played no games in Astana.

Considering the category includes current Olympic champion Akira Sone (JPN) and 4-time Olympic medallist Idalys Ortiz, as well as the two Chinese judoka who are still vying for Olympic qualification from their positions at 5th and 7th in the Olympic rankings, to win in the way Dicko did was something not just applaudable for this day, but was a clear and precise indication of what she expects to do in Paris in two and a half months from now. If someone wants the Olympic title, they will need to go and take it from around Dicko’s neck!

Ortiz (CUB), struggling to find form, lost in round two to a delighted Vladimirova (AIN) and she then lost to Akira Sone, disqualified for throwing through a straight arm. Sone’s road was anything but clean and dry though, as the German in round one pushed her to the last minute to not let penalties send the Olympic champion home early.

Sone (JPN) vs Bouizgarne (GER).

Against Somkhishvili (GEO) a very technical Sone appeared, throwing the Georgian twice, two identical o-uchi-gari attacks with perfect kuzushi and placement, in less than a minute and a half.

In the Dicko-Sone semi-final, it was a whitewash, complete and total destruction of Sone’s game. In only a minute Dicko had Sone held on the floor. Ippon came quickly and Dicko returned to her spot to bow and leave to prepare for her final.

Dicko (FRA) vs Sone (JPN).

Xu (CHIN) and Su (CHN) should have met in the other semi-final and with only 70 points between them on the Olympic Ranking List, any result short of them each winning bronze or each falling at the first hurdle would mean something significant in the context of their domestic race. However, a gap between them in Astana appeared and it widened as the day ensued.

Khrystyna Homan (UKR) has never even placed in the top 8 of a WJT competition, despite 9 attempts. She’s ranked 51st in the world and should not, on paper, be among those to watch. However, she passed Vukovic (CRO), Lucht (GER) and then met Su (CHN) in the quarter-final. This was a step too far and Su progressed toward the semi-final.

Elis Startseva (AIN) initially respected Su’s campaign by beating Xu in their respective quarter-final, throwing beautifully with a ko-uchi-gari, having already notched up two preliminary wins. She continued to support Su’s plans and duly lost putting space between the Chinese athletes.

Su (CHN) threw Startseva (AIN) for a place in the final.

In the repechage Homan was incredible, again finding something special in her reserves, throwing the other Chinese judoka, Xu, with a fast rolling seoi-otoshi and could hardly believe it when the score of ippon was called. Homan had made it to her first final block.

Homan (UKR) surprised herself in Astana.

The first bronze medal contest was fought by Dambadarjaa (MGL) and Startseva (AIN). The Mongolian is not well known having only a couple of results on the Asian circuit but she fought with great speed all day. She finished in fifth place as Startseva both out-gripped and out-attacked her. Startseva wins a worthy bronze medal.

Elis Startseva (AIN).

Homan had the opportunity of a lifetime, perhaps the steepest learning curve of all, facing Sone, the Olympic champion, for bronze. What a day she has had regardless of the outcome. Sone did win, as she should, but Homan put up a great fight only succumbing to one seoi-otoshi for a waza-ari.

Akira Sone (JPN).

Dicko and Su met in the final but it lasted just a minute. Dicko woke up this morning with only one course of action ahead of her, a sign of things to come. She armlocked Su in 60 seconds. Throughout the day Dicko ensured no-one would have any space to consider a reasonable attack. It was dominant, supremely dominant, making the task look easy. Amazing!

Dicko (FRA), just Dicko!

Final (+78 kg)

Bronze Medal Fights (+78 kg)

Medals, cheques and flowers were presented by Mr Skander Hachicha, IJF Sport Director and President of the Judo Federation of Tunisia, and Mr Rustam Ibrayev, world silver medallist.
See also