The middleweights were under the spotlight in Tajikistan for day 2 of the first ever Dushanbe Grand Prix. Among the team of Referee Supervisors and Head Referee Directors is Cathy Fleury of France, Olympic champion in 1992 and since then had some years as a national coach for the French team. Working now as an IJF Referee Supervisor gives her a perfect view of all the judo at the world’s highest level and today the technical analysis is hers.

“There is quite a big difference between the judoka in terms of level. It is an interesting range of athletes here, so soon after the world championships. We see new judoka coming in and it’s good for them to get valuable experience, fighting alongside some who already have world medals. Some older judoka have come to Tajikistan to practise a new way of doing judo, perhaps some new techniques or strategies, against this slightly lower level.

At -81kg Egutidze (POR) had two golden score contests to begin with and couldn’t fight at his best later in the preliminaries. We could assume there was a problem within his preparation as he looked immediately exhausted. Maybe the world championships was a bit close too close for him or perhaps being back down at -81kg from -90kg is bringing him some challenges. His conditioning wasn’t correct but we hope he can correct this soon as he has great judo and is good to watch when he is at his best. He still came through for a bronze medal and that in itself shows a strong mentality.

Egutidze (POR) on his way to winning the bronze

The Tajik athletes in this group were very impressive. Rizoev had extraordinary presence and power and posture. He was technically well positioned and of course he carried the crowd inside his judogi, they both did, which is proving to be a real theme here, driving the home athletes to better performances and results than their records suggest. Their final was very entertaining as the crowd were loud and expressive, appreciative of every positive action.

Rizoev (TJK) was exciting to watch all day

The German judoka Tim Gramkow came with good fighting spirit and was in the right place at the right time, utilising the right opportunities to make his move.

At -70kg Pinot was like an express train going through the group. She was the number two seed and one of those athletes who has experience but came here to try new things. Maybe she was also having some fun; it seemed like she enjoyed her day and that is very important especially at this stage in her career. In the early rounds there was probably less pressure which is different in the final but she did the same there, blasting out of the blocks. However she didn’t risk anything new there and relied on her extremely well practised and fast seoi-nage to open the scoreline. She then worked like a professional to stay positive but not be at risk, to hold the score to the end. It was a very solid performance from her. She was not selected for the worlds and so it’s a new chapter and it’s important for her to focus sometimes on having the fun and feeling the real pleasure of judo. Also, nothing is signed yet for Paris 2024 and here she looks in good shape.

Unstoppable Pinot (FRA)

Moscalu (ROU), in the same category, has a very good posture. I like when athletes stand up straight and work with the legs. She does this and also has a good attitude to timing. She is explosive too. It was almost a surprise to see her lose when she did. I have never really noticed her before, understandably as she has little reference on the World Judo Tour. Today she was outstanding and despite her finishing in fifth place, her skill and attitude point towards bigger things in the future. I am looking forward to seeing her develop.

Serafima Moscalu in action in Dushanbe

In general, I want to say that it is important to put the emphasis on attacking. The best way to move forward is to be sincere and honest, committing to the essence of competitive judo’s objectives. This is especially true when we consider the young ones coming through. It is better to work on the attacks than the tactics. I saw a lot of tactics today but even more yesterday. A message for the youth is to move forward by perfecting positive attacks and not just try to win tactically. These are two routes to success; with tactical wins you might get some fast success but in the longer term it doesn’t make a career and the more technically proficient athletes will amass the more impressive CVs.”

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