If Ono Shohei is the Japanese Teddy Riner, Clarisse Agbegnenou is almost the French version of Ono. Almost.

Olympic gold has become Agbegnenou's obsession and her stubbornness is understandable because in the last four years, practically no one has stopped her. Her great Olympic frustration comes from Rio, where everything was set for her coronation as queen of -63kg, but which ended with a silver for the greater glory of the inscrutable aspect of the sport. Agbegnenou did not know how to win what she should have won but she learned her lesson and has not made the same mistake again. At the Doha Masters she lost the final, a fortuitous slip between relentless victories because the Frenchwoman has won twelve of the thirteen tournaments she has played since the 2017 Masters. Above all, Agbegnenou has won the world title five times, the last four in a row and when she is on the tatami, she gives the impression that whatever happens she will win in the end and that cools any opponent. 

Clarisse Agbegnenou in white judogi

At first glance, the only one that could spoil her date with a golden destiny is precisely the one who shattered her Olympic dream in Brazil. Tina Trstenjak is an Olympic champion in her own right, because she delivered a flawless final, very clever, forcing Agbegnenou to make mistakes. Her performance was the perfect example of how to face such a demanding tournament from the mental point of view, with rigor, cold blood and patience. At the Olympic Games everyone is fit; the physical is less important than the mental aspect. In Rio, the Slovenian was the best and that is what Agbegnenou wants to remedy.

At the moment the French judoka has corrected the shot and has already taken the measure of the Slovenian. Now it is Trstenjak who runs behind. In Tokyo they will only be able to meet in the final and taking into account their latest results, with victory at the European Championships for Trstenjak and in the World Championship for Agbegnenou, it does not seem that things are going to change. 

You never know, though. Here there are at least five athletes wanting to spoil the party for the first two. 

Tina Trstenjak in white judogi

At the head of this pack is, of course, one of Japan’s finest, Tashiro Miku, world number three and a recent winner in Tashkent. At 27 she may have this last chance to win the Olympic title. To do this she will have to pass over Trstenjak in the semi-finals and finish the job against Agbegnenou. Others would be frightened by such a panorama. 

There's also Sanne Vermeer out there on the prowl. The Dutch team always shows up when at the big events and as the weight increases. Vermeer is subscribed to bronze, which shows her perseverance, but perhaps gold is out of her reach. 

We can also include Canadian Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard, Brazilian Ketleyn Quadros and German Martyna Trajdos in the squad of medal candidates. In the same way, in principle, gold seems unobtainable but since everything is a matter of own and others' mistakes, rather than successes, if the best ones are not up to the task, these four outsiders will know how to take advantage of the occasion. 

Tashiro Miku in white judogi

If she wins, Agbegnenou will have completed the cycle of major titles with authority. If the victory is for Trstenjak, the Slovenian will enter through the front door of the Olympic pantheon. Whatever happens, in the end, the one that always wins is judo.

Category Breakdown -48kg / IJF.org

Category Breakdown -60kg / IJF.org

Category Breakdown -52kg / IJF.org

Category Breakdown -66kg / IJF.org

Category Breakdown -57kg / IJF.org

Category Breakdown -73kg / IJF.org  

See also