The first contest of the first match, between Azerbaijan and India, saw Kanwarpreet Kaur take the first point of the day, for India, against Nigar Suleymanova. The next three wins went to team Azerbaijan but then Sharma brought some tension, winning against Abdullayeva and bringing the score to 3-2. Yes, the next contest was won by Azerbaijan and yes India went out but we are seeing the gradual climb in Indian judo, from the 2022 world cadet champion to taking wins against strong teams at the junior worlds.
From the point of this win, Azerbaijan continued to struggle. Their’s is a team peppered with medal winners from the year just passing and included new junior world champion Galandarzade, for example. However, against France they lost 4-2 and had to make do with a repechage match in order to come close to the medal stages. There, against Kazakhstan they were safe.
Let’s also think about the round of 16 match between Uzbekistan and Georgia and how much the spirit and the determination to not let the team down drives athletes to be better than the best they thought they were capable of. With the scoreline at 3-2 to Georgia, Samanov (UZB) stepped forward to face Koberidze (GEO) in the -90 kg contest. It went something like this: waza-ari GEO...
...waza-ari UZB, shido GEO, waza-ari-awaseti-ippon UZB, random draw for golden score decider and -90kg pops up again, weak attack from GEO, UZB capitalise in ne-waza and secure the hold. In the end, from a waza-ari down and Uzbekistan on their way out of the competition, Samanov pulled it back magnificently to draw and then win for his team. He could well be an MVP of the day!
Heroics from Samanov! 🇺🇿 He has to win twice in a row to make sure Uzbekistan overcome Georgia to reach the quarter final!— Judo (@Judo) October 8, 2023
Follow all the action on https://t.co/vnVSOXSCT5#JudoWorlds #Juniors #MixedTeams #Odivelas #Portugal #Sport #Judo pic.twitter.com/oxYAdYYv3g
Pool D wasn’t particularly friendly to anyone, it must be said, with Turkiye, Japan, Uzbekistan and Georgia all vying for just two places to keep moving forward. Georgia didn’t make it and neither did Turkiye. We know from the individual competition, in which Japan dominated by winning an incredible 9 out of 14 possible gold medals, that Japan is not here to play. Their team on day 5 appeared no more shakable than its individual members and they moved past Uzbekistan with ease, 4-0. That ease though, was the excellence of Japan and not a lack of it from Uzbekistan and in the repechage it was a whitewash of a win, Uzbekistan charging into a bronze medal match with a 4-0 victory over the Netherlands.
The semi-finals pitted France against a vocal and buoyant home team on the centre mat while Japan faced Brazil on mat 3. Staying with the Portuguese team, because their match was perhaps less certain of outcome than that of mat 3, it began with European Cadet champion Maria Silveira at -57 kg, one of the gold medallists at the almost 1000-strong Teplice European Cadet Cup earlier this year. She faced the world number 8 at juniors but from the weight below. Silveira is a seoi-nage specialist and her age and arguably her training bring pace and courage. She won the contest with a waza-ari scored in extra time and the spectators loved it!
Preve (FRA) evened things up ahead of France’s new world -21 champion stepping up for her challenge. Tais Pina was unafraid and with 3:07 still on the clock, looked as if she might take the win in ne-waza but her effort was neutralised. Two waza-ari scores then sealed Auchecorne’s victory and she made way for the -90 kg men to fight. Lima (POR) didn’t take long to apply what has been his trademark immediacy here in Odivelas, picking up his opposition and planting him squarely on his back to take it to 2-2.
Another cadet then stepped up, this time for France, Celia Cancan has a world cadet bronze medal but also a junior European cup gold, both from 2023. She may be young but in the team event the category is +70, not +78 kg and here, she is an expert. She put a score on the board early and added further pressure with her control of the contest area. Conceicao (POR) couldn’t withstand the kumi-kata and picked up two penalties in fast succession, meanwhile we saw Japan bow off the far mat with a 4-1 win ready to plan for their final; opposition yet to be decided.
Cancan eventually won by ippon and was followed by Anglionin, her teammate, who won his contest too. They took the 4-2 win over the home team, who have had a fantastic preliminary session and will be tough to beat in the bronze medal match. France again make it to a world mixed team final and their opponents are not strangers either.
The first match for a world bronze medal in the mixed team competition was fought between Azerbaijan and France. Galandarzade continued to have a difficult day, opening the match with a loss to his own head-dive, giving Brazil the first point and a big boost of hope and confidence. Cardoso (BRA) added to the fire by winning her -70 kg contest before Talibov (AZE) brought one back.
Pires then really piled the pressure on for Azerbaijan by beating their heavyweight with two solid waza-ari scores. Azaerbaijan had to win the next contest to stay in with a chance and Ahmadov did that for them, beating Guimaraes very quickly, leaving no room for questions. The -57 kg contest between Alizada and Reis was decisive, killing Azerbaijan’s hopes, as Reis scored a waza-ari and protected it well. Junior world bronze medals go to the Brazilian team members.
Toshev (UZB) and junior world silver medallist Kvantidze opened the bidding for the second bronze and the home entrant couldn't wait to get started, notching up a waza-ari immediately from a sumi-gaeshi. From there he made a mistake though and allowed the Uzbek his favourite double tricep grip. Toshev launched into Kvantidze with a ko-soto-gake and nodded in satisfaction as the referee, Roland Poiger, signalled ippon.
An uchi-mata entry switched to an o-uchi-gari evened the scoreline for Portugal, pleasing the spectators.
Pedro Lima, a powerhouse among Portugal's juniors, then fought at -90 kg and went a waza-ari down but his never-give-up attitude and his massive throwing ability saw him bring it back in the dying seconds of the contest. He gripped around his opponent's belt and like a whirlwind propelled them in a circular fashion, throwing for ippon. Lima could be another contender for MVP in Lisbon! His results don't tell the real story and we predict great things from him in the coming months and years. What a talent!
The next win was Portugal's too, on penalties but then Shorakhmatov brought it back to 3-2 with a fast ippon win over Guilherme Silva at +90 kg. As with the first bronze medal match, the final contest became very important and for Portugal it was cadet Maria Silveira left to hunt for the fourth point. Redjepova (UZB) struggled with the pace of attack but Silveira was up against it in terms of strength. Both began to make mistakes, feeling the weight of their potential win or loss and it was then that Silveira began to access her ne-waza arsenal, turning Redjepova and holding her to earn the final, valuable fourth point. Portugal take the second bronze at home; a magnificent end for the hosts.
Let's say it again, Maria Silveira is still a cadet, clearly a very good one! She brought it home for her team under the emotional gaze of the crowd and of the federation President, Sergio Pina.
On to the final and it was Preve for France in white and Hadano in blue for Japan. The latter took the win with a waza-ari scored from a seoi-nage, not spectacular but nevertheless important. The next contest was reminiscent of Clariss Agbegnenou taking on Arai in the Tokyo Olympic Mixed Team Event in 2021, the two Olympic champions, one weighing 63 kg and the other 70 kg. Here Auchecorne, the lighter athlete, couldn't match Clarisse's result and was held down by Japan's Mayu Honda. What is worth making a note of though is that each dominated their category in the individual competition, each gave their best at the team event and each will leave Portugal with two new world medals. These are world class seniors of the future and their contributions to this liaison in Odivelas cannot be overstated.
Kawabata took a third win for Japan and then it was the turn of Celia Cacan to try to hold off the onslaught. Mao Arai tried very hard to pin Cancan, earning three osae-komi signals from the referee in the first minute, but Cancan escaped from each and allowed no score to be lodged. Without missing a beat, the French cadet then threw for waza-ari with harai-goshi but rolled immedaitely on to her own back and Arai was not gfoing to let that pass. She held Cancan for ippon to make it a 4-0 victory.
From the moment team Japan arrived in Portugal they looked decided on their fate, determined to dominate both the individual and team events. They succeeded, though not without challenge.
Japan are the junior world mixed team champions, France take the silver medals while Brazil and Portugal go home with bronzes.
1 - Japan
2 - France
3 - Portugal
3 - Brazil
5 - Uzbekistan
5 - Azerbaijan