There is a quiet one roaming around the category, scoring ippon and winning medals but staying under the radar.
Final, Asya Tavano (ITA) vs Kinga Wolszczak (POL)

At just 21 years old she already has two senior European medals, 2 grand slam medals and even a top 8 finish at the 2023 Doha World Championships after throwing current world number one and 2022 world champion Romane Dicko (FRA) twice to send her away from Doha with nothing. She is not messing around, present to develop, to win and to earn her place in Italy’s hall of fame.

Tavano's (ITA) quarter-final win against Hofman (POL) in Dushanbe, 2024.

Asya Tavano came to Dushanbe to push herself into the top eight for the Olympic Games; the goal is clear. Currently 13th on the Olympic Ranking List but with 3 French, 2 Chinese and 2 Turkish above her, she is almost there already.

In Tajikistan she beat Ramazanova (KAZ) and Vukovic (CRO) on penalties as they couldn’t keep up with the Italian. She beat Hofman (POL) with two powerful throws, an ashi-guruma and a ko-soto-gari and last on her list of chores for the day is to claim the gold and to do so with her normal high-paced, aggressive and technical judo.

Tavano (ITA) winning her semi-final.

Meeting Tavano in the final was Wolszczak (POL) who won her first contest with a throw to hold combination, her second by shime-waza, against Zabic (SRB), her third with a massive ko-soto-gake against Ceric (BIH). Her semi-final lasted little over a minute, throwing Berlikash (KAZ) with a ura-nage in the first 30 seconds and transitioning into a hold for he second waza-ari two exchanges later.

Wolszcak (POL) vs Zabic (SRB).

Sixth seed Lee (KOR) didn’t have the day she would have wanted, losing to Berlikash in the quarter-final but she put herself squarely into the final block all-the-same, beating Ceric in the repechage. The remarkable thing to remember though is that on the World Judo Tour there are already high expecations for her, yet she is still a cadet. She won the Asian and world cadet championships in 2023 but also took bronze in Tbilisi this year. She is an immense talent for the future, fighting among the biggest names in the heavyweight category as if she belonged there.

Hyeonji Lee (KOR) becoming cadet world champion in Zagreb in 2023.

The first bronze medal was disputed by Hofman and Berlikash. It was not a match without action but ended on penalties in favour of the Polish judoka.

Bronze medal contest, Urszula Hofman (POL) vs Kamila Berlikash (KAZ)

Lee and Vukovic fought for the second bronze medal, with the Korean leading throughout. First the was a penalty for Vukovic and then a waza-ari for Lee. There was a second one at the two-minute mark and a bronze medal for the very impressive cadet. What the future holds for her, we can only imagine.

Bronze medal contest, Hyeonji Lee (KOR) vs Helena Vukovic (CRO)

In the final Tavano looked to be set to take the gold without resistance and scored an earl waza-ari to lay her claim for the medal but Wolszczak was not about to agree to that and promptly threw to equalise. Tavano found a new gear in response and took charge in ne-waza, finishing with a fast koshi-jime. This 21-year-old will zip even further up the rankings ahead of the Abu Dhabi World Championships; what a career she is beginning to carve out.

Medals, cheques and flowers were presented by Mr Juan Carlos Barcos, IJF Co-ordinator responsible for International Refereeing Seminars & President of the Spanish Judo Federation, and Mr Serik Sapiyev, Vice President of the Kazakhstan Olympic Committee and boxing Olympic champion

Final (+78 kg)

Bronze Medal Fights (+78 kg)

See also