Diyora Keldiyorova of Uzbekistan has been collecting great results over the last couple of years but, more than that, she has been collecting information and experience. She has beautiful, technical judo, the heart of a lion and a work ethic to be admired and all of this can be seen on the tatami.

In Abu Dhabi she won a world silver medal, her second in as many years, and collected yet more information and now she is ready to move into the final phase of planning and training for the Paris Olympic Games.

The -52 kg podium at the Abu Dhabi World Championships, 2024.

“I think altogether it was a good day,” said Diyora. “I fight each round, one by one. I don’t know the draw in advance; I just do my warm-up and then find out who the first opponent will be. My coach is doing the analysis for me and so he gives me any extra details I need. I don’t want to fight for a medal, meaning I’m not thinking about medals, just fight by fight and I must win each round before I can think about a medal.”

Coach Marko Spittka added, “Sometimes I have a new idea or see a new tactic while at the events but really all the work has been done in advance and we know the way."

Keldiyorova and Spittka working together towards gold at the 2024 Baku Grand Slam.

"We came here as if it is a normal tournament, like a grand slam. We didn’t come here for second place and it’s normal to want to win but we analyse and are ready to work in this last period on the details.

Giuffrida has found her solutions but for me it wasn’t a nice fight to see between France and Italy in their semi-final. Both are great judo players but in the end it was not the judo we are looking for, too much show and playing on the line of the rules. It’s a different style from the one we want.”

Diyora continued, “I think I can do it at the Olympic Games. I will be aiming to throw, of course. We are waiting for the ranking to be updated but after the 3rd place from Ballhaus maybe Uta Abe is unseeded, in a free place. Maybe we will have her first fight. If this happens then we still have to win, just the same. Everyone has to think that way. If we don’t think about doing our best, there is nothing more to say.

Somebody has to find the solution for her and we have trained with her in Japan. If I could choose, it would be me and Abe in the final in Paris. In this category, it’s so strong from so many athletes. Seeding is one thing but the high quality of judo from so many athletes keeps all of us pushing steadily higher and higher. On that day, we will do it our way, with the right judo.”

It was an Abe-Keldiyorova final in Doha in 2023.

Diyora Keldiyorova will compete on day two of the Olympic Judo event at the Champs du Mars Arena and she will be ready, as ready as anyone could be.

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