IJF Head Referee Director Florin Daniel Lascau had the perfect view of all the judo on display at the Accor Arena Bercy throughout the 2024 Paris Grand Slam. The technical analysis for the third and final day and some additional thoughts, about the event as a whole, are his.
“There has been an incredible range of judo. There has been the consecration of champions and also some making of space for new names, which began on day one and has continued throughout.
On day 3, the -78 kg category was a parade of champions and they had the chance here to demonstrate the value of those world and Olympic medals. It was interesting to see that being a world champion was not enough for Paris. We saw fights with 3 waza-ari finishes and so one athlete scoring was also not enough to hold the win.
Germany’s duel at -78 was not a simple fight but a huge nomination for the Olympic Games. Wagner came out on top this time but Boehm is European champion. It was the same for the French; it’s not just a head-to-head inside the French team but it’s for prestige at home and also impacts the Olympic qualification, which in this category is not yet decided.
We saw other countries do a good job taking on the big names. Kantsevaya (AIN) scored ippon in her first three fights and it showed how focussed she was and it was only the experience of Wagner that stopped her from coming to the final.
An epic start to the year for Wagner! 🇩🇪🥇— Judo (@Judo) February 4, 2024
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We saw Lanir looking concentrated as always, very clear with big throws and transitioning well into ne-waza. She took an unexpected loss to Kantsevaya (AIN) and was unable to convert the final block opportunity when faced with a Steenhuis on a mission. She remains, however, one of the best in the category.
Whatever the final in Paris, it could be a final at the Olympic Games. Wagner and Bellandi are certainly contenders, that is, if Wagner is selected."
"At +78 kg the Turkish team has their own battle between Ozdemir and Ozturk which is a fight between the generations. We must acknowledge the heavyweights of France and Japan, with Dicko being better than Fontaine today but both throwing well. The selection has already been made though and being on top of the podium here shows that an Olympic medal is possible again for Dicko.
Zgank, at -90 kg, continues with momentum from Portugal and is now on the winning path. He arrived in the final again. Azerbaijan’s Hajiyev is young and exciting, fighting through the day to final. The Kyrgyz athlete also has great throwing ability and reached the final block, taking a bronze in Paris at just the right time. He’s coming through at the right moment to be one to watch at the Games."
"Macedo (BRA) had a spinning uchi-mata which was impressive and very fast for -90kg. It’s a category where we see a combination of dynamics and powerful techniques, a great variety. They all profited from the absence of Bekauri and that left a medal space open which several athletes bid for.
At -100 kg there was some consistency on show from the starting point of being a world or Olympic champion; it shows their substance. Sherazadishvili won by ippon, waza, ippon, ippon to arrive in the final. It shows that he has taken the time to transition his quality to -100 kg now. Wolf also won with all positive scores and showed that his techniques are ready for this level of competition again."
"Eich (SUI) performed well, throwing and coming back from a score against him, most notably against Kostoev (UAE). He could reproduce great moments through the day, scoring double waza-ari, earning his place in the final block; he deserves it."
"Kukolj (SRB) demonstrated with some others how good judo isn’t necessarily applied in a brutal way. He had a very respectful manner and he abides by the ethics of the sport. We have short moments on the tatami to try to be the better athlete but Kukolj is one who always shows what it means to be a better human for far long than that, for society."
"At +100 kg Minjong Kim came to the final with explosive judo, Demetrashvili (GEO), for one, could not keep up. The two young Georgians are not ready for this Olympic Games but we can say their federation are preparing for the future. We see new names in their team. Some countries are running parallel national teams for this Games and also for the next. Some athletes are knocking on the door to take their places."
"Teddy Riner won a first tactical fight and then brought a throw for the second. In the Kone contest he showed good transition too. The semi-final fight was a very open one with Yusupov using pure judo principles to throw first. Riner equalised and then took the win but both showed great skill. The capacity of Teddy to come back from being down a score shows his vast experience. This competition will make him open questions and solve certain situations and add some peace to his pathway towards a possible third Olympic gold medal. There are now more contestants than ever for that medal but we see his determination to be the one."
Record setter!! 8 Paris titles! Every judo fan should witness Riner winning in Paris ✨ no words can describe the magic!🥇🇫🇷— Judo (@Judo) February 4, 2024
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"The Paris Grand Slam had a huge number of countries and a wide range of styles. Stars and champions delivered such diverse favours of judo in this Olympic year. We have seen the dedication to training that allows judoka to have enough techniques to be able to solve many situations and even if the main technique isn’t working, there is something else. This used to be the domain of just a few countries but now it is more diverse and the athletes are willing to do anything to score and throw til the end.
The majority of the Paris Grand Slam demonstrated that throwing judo is the answer to everything. Under pressure, the best technical base delivers.”
The standings at the end of the tournament showed a clear domination by the home team. France topped the table with double the number of golds of the second place country, Japan. Germany was in third place.
We acknowledge that Japan did not bring their entire A-team and we also note the home ground advantage for the French athletes but regardless of the medal tally, the judo has been excellent, the organisation has been smooth and the teaser we have enjoyed ahead of the Olympic Games was perfect. We now look ahead to Baku in less than two weeks from now. See you there!