Jose Manuel Cortes (ESP) is now an IJF Referee Supervisor, having completed an exemplary refereeing career, including outstanding work at the Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. Today, for day two of the 2024 Paris Grand Slam, the technical analysis is his.

“There is a great mix of the old and the new, those experienced players with their big medals, high ranking and substantial experience, pitted against those just beginning to establish their careers.

The final of the -73 kg category is the best example of this today with the Georgian appearing from 179th place on the World Ranking List, arriving to face Ishihara, a 22 year old Japanaese fighter with no world ranking at all. He has never fought in an IJF or even continental event before and now he will leave France with a Paris gold. It is unbelievable; perhaps no-one dreamed of it, no-one could have predicted this before the moment it happened.

Chikhelidze (GEO) in action.

In the -73 kg category, from the top 8 top seeds only 3 came to be in the final block with Chikhelidze and Ishihara dominating all of their adversaries. At -81 kg only 4 of the top 8 came to the final block too. For example, Saeid Mollaei went out on penalties against Dominic Ressel, a strong competitor but one who, on paper, Mollaei could have expected to pass.

At -63 kg only Lucy Rensall (GBR) came to the final block and notably she also converted that opportunity into a medal, her second in two weeks. She seems to be back on form having been the world number one for quite some time last year.

World number 4, Lucy Renshall (GBR) medals again.

In the final category of the day, -70 kg, 4 of the top 8 made it to the afternoon session. Overall this means judo is unpredictable even when there are robust rankings used and even when many of the best are in town.

This Paris Grand Slam may be the first step for the new generation and for many countries they have already selected some of their judoka for the Games. Mokdar (FRA) winning at -57 kg yesterday and Toro Soler (ESP) taking a bronze at -52 kg are part of that layering of the generations, both so young and just excelling ahead of the curve. Interestingly, Toro Soler’s mother whose mother was Yolanda Soler, Olympic bronze medallist in Atlanta. Maybe her daughter is on a path to do it in LA!

The last point for today is that there have been a few very long golden scores, most memorably that of Megumi Horikawa, world champion and Clarisse Agbegnenou, 6 time world champion. The fight continued for a total of more that 12 minutes but it was exciting and a good example of why we need golden score. It was a good golden score with interesting tactics and a battle between two great champions. It eventually finished with a positive score, exactly as the crowd wanted it to end and for sure how both athletes wanted it to end.”

Clarisse Agbegnenou took 12 magnificent minutes to throw Horikawa and light up the Accor Arena.

Day two is already over and the heavyweights are preparing for their big day at the Bercy Accor Arena. Catch all the action at with preliminary rounds beginning at 9am.

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