It’s day 4 and we are around the halfway point. It’s been magnificent so far, no two ways about it. What’s in store for us today is being written by the athletes but there are some things to think about as this day gets off to a warm start here in Qatar.

One - Ketleyn Quadros! What can we say about someone so strong and so powerful who, at 35 years of age, remains among the best in the world? We could be thinking, somewhere in the back of our minds, that it’s time to stop, she’s not going to keep up but she continues to prove all the stats and doubters wrong. She’s currently 4th on the World Ranking List.

Quadros heading to the final in Tel Aviv, 2023

Fifteen years ago a twenty year old Quadros took bronze at the Beijing Olympic Games. She’s not quite seen a return to that form since, however she’s a nightmare for all opposition and as if planned just in time for this world championships, she won gold in Antalya just weeks ago, including decisive wins over double world medallist Barbara Timo (POR), and world number two Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard (CAN) who has her own Olympic and world medals. Quadros is no joke and it could be Timo she faces again in her first contest in Doha.

Two - Clarisse already came back but now… she’s back! For her followers on social media there has been a marked change in her training and the preparation for this world championships has been committed and intense but also calm. She’s a woman who prioritises like no other and as a 5-time world champion, she knows what she’s doing.

Clarisse Agbegnenou, 2021 Olympic champion

In Doha Clarisse is unseeded, a nightmare for all of the -63kg category who sat and watched the draw with their nerves in tatters. To be drawn against Clarisse at a world championships is to understand the wall you face, granite, impregnable, terrifying.

Winning the 5th world title, Budapest, 2021

Of course, she is now a mum and we expect that to have some kind of impact at the top level but what if it doesn’t? What if Clarisse is just as dominant today as she has ever been? That would really be something, right? She will begin her campaign in round one against Obradovic (SRB).

Three - where to begin? At -81kg there continues to be a concentration of incredible athletes able to win world and Olympic medals as if it were easy. They come with the full range of styles and they clash event after event in a way that ignites volume in every crowd, setting the internet alight. From Nagase (JPN), the Olympic champion who loves a middle lapel, to the mechanical and strategic style of triple world medallist Casse (BEL) and on to the wrestler, who, it turns out, also has beautiful traditional judo too, Mollaei, with his two world medals and an Olympic silver. There’s the typical Georgian style in overdrive belonging to Tato Grigalashvili, already a world champion and among the people’s favourites but also what about Shamil Borchashvili (AUT) or Albayrak (TUR) or the madness and unpredictability of Frank De Wit (NED).

Nagase and Mollaei fought the Olympic final in Tokyo

This category has something for everyone, the pick-n-mix of world judo. We haven’t even mentioned 2019 world champion Sagi Muki (ISR) who had been off form for some time but then exploded on to the podium on home soil just 3 months ago, winning the Tel Aviv Grand Slam with an outstanding performance that reminded us exactly why he had that red backpatch for a while.

Lee (KOR) won in Portugal this year

Alpha Djalo (FRA), 20 year old Portugal Grand Prix winner Joonhwan Lee (KOR), Cavelius (GER), Esposito (ITA), it’s just becoming a list! Can we call it? Probably not. The -81kg category is a sensory overload and it’s today. We can’t wait!

See also