Here is the technical analysis after three days of intense competition in Kazan. For three days we have experienced beautiful moments of judo, some of which will remain marked in people's minds.

We will retain for example the names of Makhmadbek Makhmadbekov and Madina Taimazova; two names that symbolise the new Russian generation that has emerged in Kazan. In a style that combines physical power, technical precision and a tactical approach, the Russian team took full advantage of the grand slam held in their country, to collect points and experience. Those who will not be in Tokyo this summer will still be present at major international events in the near future.

We know that building a world or Olympic champion does not happen overnight and it is obvious that Russia is already building a future that could be bright.

As the qualifying season nears the end, we have seen increasingly sharp competitors who are no longer far from their peak form. For some it will be for the World Championships and for others it will be for the Games; the art of training will be critiqued on arrival, in good shape, at D-Day, which is what coaches all over the world will now work towards.

In the final of the -90kg category, the mastery of MURAO is to be emphasised. It corresponds to the Japanese judo that we know and love; the one who is looking for the perfect movement, executed with the sensation of the least effort. Make no mistake, it requires a lot of work and automation. It is those hours of rehearsal, uchi-komi and randori, performed in training, which, on the day of the competition, in the final of a grand slam, made MURAO perform the attack with perfect timing against the German TRIPPEL who nevertheless offered very beautiful things throughout the day.

The Kazan Grand Slam showed a very varied physiognomy, where the young generation rose to the level of the confirmed athletes. If the ranking list is a good indicator of the level of the athletes, it is good to see that the youngest and lower ranked are keen to show what they are capable of.

Penalties remain an important tactical element of winning or not. As Attila Ungvari pointed out, on a good day the one who wins will be the one who does not make a mistake and who will be able to throw, as he did perfectly on the second day. It is nonetheless true that many competitors are still being penalised carelessly, which handicaps them when they could focus on more positive judo. Taking a penalty because you are keeping your hands on the same side of the judogi without attacking is a bit silly. Finding yourself with one or two penalties against yourself puts you in a stressful situation which does not always help you make the right choices.

Another highlight of these three days of competition was the increased number of attacks inside the attack of the opponent. We have had several examples, including that of MURAO, already mentioned. This is once again a tell-tale sign of the precision that athletes are acquiring. During all the months without competition, it had not been possible to develop the automatisms, but with several events since January and training camps too, the judo level is rising. Everything is working out for the pleasure of spectators and judo fans. This improvement is also reflected in movements which become absolutely spectacular, like the drop seoi-nage of FREY against SIMIONESCU. The latter suddenly appeared to weigh 60kg as he soared through the air.

Another point to emphasise is the fact that every second counts in a judo match; the first as much as the last. We saw matches start very quickly and the competitors win in less than fifteen seconds. Time for a hajime, to gauge yourself and then the first attack can be the right one. We have also seen matches won on the gong, such as BILALOV who scored two seconds from the end to win bronze.

There is still so much to say about the Kazan Grand Slam. It should be noted that even if Japan came with a small delegation, the country leaves with almost a full box, three gold medals and one bronze; sacred efficiency.

In a few weeks the World Championships will open their doors and we will still have the opportunity to detail what is happening on the tatami that makes us love judo so much. In the meantime, athletes around the world are getting ready to give their best.

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