I really felt the Georgian power in the atmosphere today. We have the big names like Maisuradze and Bekauri but we also have others like Sulamanidze and Zaalishvili and the power coming from the crowd must have been amazing for the Georgian judoka.
Another powerhouse of the tournament, the Frenchwomen, amaze us with how they stay so strong in both under and over 78 kilos. They practically always place French athletes in the medal fights. Without Sone (JPN) no-one can stop the French army. The first string are there and the second string athletes are right behind them waiting to pick up the reins. Tcheumeo didn’t have the best day but world champion Malonga was ready to take over and she did it well.
We could see in the eyes of Malonga that she needed to win. That was very different from Lanir who now has a new confidence and knows she will win.
For sure when Lanir woke up today she knew she would win. She is focussed and certain.
The biggest story today is Martti Puumalainen and especially how he beat Saito (JPN), throwing him and then managing him and the time too. It is a big win and gives Finland their first ever Masters medal. They should be very proud of both the result and the judo. Another big surprise was the exit of Lukas Krpalek, losing in the first round to Turoboyev (UZB). Of course it’s a tough draw but we expected a closer match. The Uzbek really dominated with his very uncomfortable style. One way or another we would lose a great champion in that first round match but still somehow we didn’t expect it.
Turoboyev’s arms are so long and that reach makes it very difficult to fight against him. His range can catch an opponent at all times, no matter the situation and he has learned to use the reach very well.
Bellandi losing early was a big shock. She didn’t look the same, not the attitude of the warrior which we usually see. The fight against the Korean perhaps was uncomfortable for her specifically or maybe she just had a bad day. All can be forgiven but have come to expect a lot of her, which says something about the judoka we know she can be.
The whole event felt like a world championships. It’s not always quite so high a level at the Masters even when it has the potential to be but this time it has been really incredible.
Across the tournament as a whole, some of the biggest names haven’t brought the same condition or focus like they might at a worlds but also many have. The calendar is packed and for some it may have been al little too much but for others, with this density of champions in the draw, it was really great.
Seeing great champions like Clarisse winning bronze medals instead of the usual gold and then celebrating so warmly, we see what the effort is worth. Medals don’t come easily here and Clarisse showed how prestigious this event is. She showed class and poise, a really great example to all.
What a great way to sum up the event. It has been an outstanding 3 days of judo, taking us one step closer to Paris 2024 and one step closer to knowing what the line-up there will look like.
The World Judo Tour now moves on to Zagreb and the final grand prix of 2023. See you in Croatia or online at JudoTV.com.