The draw being well known, she knew that she would have to face the local Kayra Sayit (TUR) early in the day, an athlete who did not provide her with much confidence, since in Paris this year already Sayit won against Dicko. Things were therefore repeated for the French champion, who hoped to imitate her teammate Tcheumeo and join her other winning teammates from the first day, but she bowed out again to the Turkish judoka.
Although she had launched a hip movement, Dicko did not shake Sayit by even a millimetre and the latter counter-attacked to then link with an unstoppable immobilisation. It remained for Sayit to win her semi-final, which she did, to the delight of the public who were awaiting their first medal.
For Romane Dicko it was really nothing to worry about. She remains world number one with a good chance of retaining her title in Qatar but she should be careful all the same. It is not possible to always win. It is also preferable to make mistakes before the big championships arrive. There is also the risk of giving too much confidence to the opponents, a serious consideration.
Sayit now had confidence and she entered the final against the Serbian Milica Zabic who on the other side of the draw slipped discreetly to the final to try to win gold.
Kayra Sayit overcomes the world champion! Will she bring the host nation it’s first sought-after gold? 🤩🥇🇹🇷#Judo #JudoAntalya #Türkiye #WJT #RoadToParis2024 #OlympicQualifier pic.twitter.com/M727Jhy2Sa— Judo (@Judo) April 2, 2023
As the final was announced the crowd raised the sound level by a notch and it became quickly impossible to hear anything but the public chanting. Milica Zabic did not seem to be bothered as she was the first to action with a brilliant seoi-nage, that left Sayit bewildered. Waza-ari was announced. Everything was still possible, but Zabic kept attacking and attacking, pushing Sayit to be penalised. It looked like the Turkish judoka did not have a solution but to play tactics and hope that the remaining time would be in her favour. This was indeed the case, with the third penalty awarded to Zabic, Kayra Sayit could offer a first gold medal to the host nation of this grand slam. What a match from Milica Zabic and congratulations to Kayra Sayit and Turkiye.
Romane Dicko (FRA) and Shiyan Xu (CHN) faced each other to win the first bronze medal. The French judoka gave no hope to Xu and scored ippon with ko-uchi-gari after a couple of unsuccessful attempts. Thus Dicko must be sad not having reached the final but she can be satisfied with a new medal on the World Judo Tour, showing consistency and regularity.
Türkiye had a second medal chance with Hilal Ozturk (TUR) qualifying for the other match for a bronze medal, against Adiyasuren Amarsaikhan (MGL). After a few seconds, Ozturk took the lead with a maki-komi attack and concluded with an immobilisation for ippon. The crowd could explode with joy.
For photos of Antalya and all IJF events, go to ijf.org/galleries