The World Ranking List is always a reliable indicator of the forces present, which is logical. It is rare, however, that it is to this extent, especially in a category that is renowned for its uncertainty and its ability to reveal surprises.
It should also be noted that for the first time in many months, we have rediscovered the brilliance and commitment of a champion that we had so much pleasure in following in 2019, when he won the world title in Japan. Sagi Muki (ISR) is an exceptional judoka, whose ability to launch attacks even in the most acrobatic manner has thrilled the judo world. However, since his world title, Muki has struggled to regain his best level. Perhaps he lacked the trigger, that little nothing that makes everything smile on you, or not.
Joonhwan Lee - Kid is in the jungle!🇰🇷🔥— Judo (@Judo) January 28, 2023
Follow the action at https://t.co/Gupw1a0ll6 📺#JudoPortugal #Judo #Portugal #Sport #Olympics #RoadToParis2024 #Judo #OlympicQualifiers pic.twitter.com/sP3RddyYTt
Was it today? We hoped for him. What is certain is that we have found, at least in part, the spirit of the champion. So it didn't quite work out against Joonhwan Lee and Muki had to bow out. During the other matches of the eliminatory phase, he was often close to losing but he also always knew how to raise the bar and continue to move on. For the bronze medal he was opposed by Mihail Latisev (MDA), but we will come back to this interesting contest later on.
We really looked forward the the final between rising star Joonhwan Lee (KOR) and Eljan Hajiyev (AZE), bronze medallist at the last Junior World Championships Guayaquil 2022. This new generation is definitely worth following. After a minute Hajiyev, being way less active than his opponent, was penalised with a first shido. With less than 30 seconds to go, a second shido was picked up by Hajiyev for passivity. It was time for golden score. It didn't take much time for Lee to score ippon with a powerful and speedy seoi-nage. Lee is back at the top of the medal podium.
The first bronze medal contest saw Sagi Muki (ISR) and Mihail Latisev (MDA) facing one another. It was actually a very promising match between the 2019 world champion and the 2022 junior world champion. Two styles and two generations separated the two athletes. The excitement was not felt in the way Sagi Muki was planning it though. He was scored against twice for waza-ari within less than a minute, so it was bronze for Mihail Latisev.
Frank De wit (NED) has had a hard last season and being again with the capacity to win a medal on the World Judo tour was already a good sign for the Dutch champion but to get on the podium he had to face a last challenge in the name of Hievorh Mamukian (UKR). The first score came from De Wit, who launched a yoko-tomoe-nage to take the lead, before controlling the rest of the contest to win a medal that he's been waiting for, for months.
Final (-81 kg)
Bronze Medal Fights (-81 kg)
Final Results (-81 kg)
More images of the Grand Prix Portugal 2023 - CLICK HERE
Day 2 medalists of #JudoPortugal
Day 2 medalists of #JudoPortugal 🇵🇹🎉 pic.twitter.com/LyNmFJFd5a— Judo (@Judo) January 28, 2023