Wins for New Zealand, Guinea and Ecuador shone in round one and suggested a new level of diversity may unfold in Paris.
Final Chloe Buttigieg (FRA) vs Audrey Tcheumeo (FRA)

However, each of them lost in the next round making way for more established judo nations. The newcomers have proven that fights can be won at this level but there is much more work to be done.

Final Chloe Buttigieg (FRA) vs Audrey Tcheumeo (FRA)

Great Britain’s Natalie Powell started well against junior European champion Kurchenko (UKR), throwing for ippon in just half a minute. The next round wasn’t so easy and a loss in golden score meant an appearance in the repechage which also didn’t go well.

Gold medallist Audrey Tcheumeo (FRA)

Lanir also began encouragingly, looking strong and determined but a disqualification for head-diving in the quarter-final against Yoon (KOR) put her out of the competition.

Number 1 seed Guusje Steenhuis made it to the quarter-final but lost to a virtually unknown French judoka, Chloe Buttigieg, who in turn passed the 5th seed Lee to reach her first grand slam final.

Gold medallist Audrey Tcheumeo (FRA)

Audrey Tcheumeo was the real MVP of the category. Audrey has a presence, exuding confidence and a sincere love for the challenge. The Bercy loves her and appreciates her CV. From her first step on to the field of play the spectators sent her all their power and she soaked it up, blasting through the draw. A bye and 3 almost inevitable wins took her directly to the final.

The first bronze medal looked to be heading to Korea with Yoon after a kata-guruma put a waza-ari on the board after only 53 seconds but we know Guusje Steenhuis isn’t afraid of hard work and she stayed in the contest, never letting her effort drop. With a minute to go she launched an aggressive left uchi-mata and even things up. It then went to golden score and the same work ethic was applied.

Steenhuis threatened with the uchi-mata again and again and there wasn’t much of an answer, edging each exchange closer to the Dutch woman. Penalties decided it and Steenhuis took a deserved win.

Bronze medal contest Patricia Sampaio (POR) vs Jeongyun Lee (KOR)

On the mat next door, Yoon’s teammate, Jeongyun Lee, was leading the poce against Portugal’s Patricia Sampaio, winner of the recent Portugal Grand Prix. Lee went one better than Yoon and took the win and therefore a bronze medal for Korea.

In the final the crowd were delighted to be able to follow an all-French fight between Chloe Buttigieg, who has no grand slam medals, and podium stalwart Audrey Tcheumeo, 2011 world champion and 15-time grand slam medallist. It should have been a one-way street but Buttigieg was clearly not going to buckle, regardless of the gravity of her achievement in front of the gathered public.

Bronze medal contest: Guusje Steenhuis (NED) vs Hyunji Yoon (KOR)

Both women showed exemplary mental toughness and a willingness to give their all. Tcheumeo won in the end with a throw in golden score but her final moment on the tatami was to celebrate her opponent’s great day in Paris. Audrey showed on her hands that this is a pleasing 6th Paris title for her, joining an incredible cast of names who’ve done the same, from Lebrun to Agbegnenou. Audrey then worried to see if Teddy would match it by winning his final!

Medals, cheques and flowers were presented by Dr Laszlo TOTH, Vice President of the International Judo Federation, President of the European Judo Union & President of the Hungarian Judo Association and Ms Gevrise EMANE, 3 time World Champion, Bronze Olympic Medallist, 5 time European Champion, and Vice President of France Judo

Final (-78 kg)

Bronze Medal Fights (-78 kg)

See also