Judo has been fantastic the whole weekend and once again today, for the third day in a row, the technical level was amazing. There were tremendous throws in the heavy weight categories, very spectacular and aerial and I think that everyone enjoyed it very much. I definitely did.
I am really pleased with the level of ne-waza that was on display throughout the weekend. For instance, World Champion Hamada Shori in -78kg, showed beautiful skills in ne-waza. Everyone knows that she is strong on the floor, everybody knows what she's gonna do, but still she won all her matches in ne-waza. Only in the final, she won with a superb uchi-mata. She was definitely above all her opponents today.
It's not possible to analyse a day like this, without talking about Teddy Riner and his comeback after such a long break. We were all expecting to see him again on the tatami. He's such an incredible champion. We were all expecting him to win, which he did, but that was not easy and he had to go very deep to find the necessary ressources to be on top of the podium in Montreal. I think that it's good for the sport, for him of course, but also for his opponents. That was especially difficult in the semi-final, as Lukas KRPALEK was very dangerous throughout the match and pushed Teddy to his limits. It was very exciting to watch and that is what we want to see. That is real sport.
It was interesting to see that Teddy was still not very accustomed with the judogi rule. For a few months now, every time there is a 'Mate', the competitors have to put back their judogi so during the next sequence, you can have a proper grip on your opponent's judogi. But as Riner did not compete over the past months, he didn't have the opportunity to really integrate that. During the day, several times he was struggling to put back his judogi. For sure next time, he will be totally ready.
I noticed that 14 out of 15 matches in the final block today concluded with a positive score. This shows the technical level of all the athletes who qualified for the final block. They have solutions, tactical and technical, but they all step on the tatami with the idea to score.
For me, after those three days, I am always amazed to see the respect that dominates the whole competition. Judo is really different from any other activity. No matter if you win or lose, you respect your opponent.
Udo Quellmalz is the 1996 Olympic Champion and 1991 and 1995 World Champion. He was performance director of the British team and coached in Austria and Qatar. He's now a member of the IJF supervision commission.