The opening day of the Marrakech Grand Prix provided plenty of high quality action.

Today’s five gold medal winners managed a healthy 15 ippons between them. But the key point for me today was the approach adopted to the tempo of the contests by each of the eventual champions. What appeared to set them apart was an apparent in-built clock that dictated almost every aspect of the flow, rhythm, progress and pattern of each contest.

This degree of control is given further weight when one considers that only two scores of waza ari were conceded by the five, both unsurprisingly by Sharafuddin LUTFILLAEV (UZB) who is recognised as being one the most “open” judoka on the IJF World Tour. Knowing, understanding and being able to apply successful tactics at this level requires a wealth of experience. And, again, this is further confirmed by the fact that all five were previous multi medal winners on the Tour.

Only Sardor NURILLAEV (UZB) could remotely be considered a new comer as, although this was his third Grand Prix medal, it was his first gold. The overall impression was that focus and a recognition of purpose were key driving forces to the success of today’s medal winners.

Sheldon Franco-Rooks, who was one of the founding members of the IJF live stream, has been a mainstay since the birth of the IJF World Judo Tour in 2009 and has commentated on hundreds of IJF events. Franko-Rooks also commentates for the EJU and has worked at three Olympic Games.

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