The second edition of The Hague Grand Prix saw the 14 gold medals go to 12 different countries as judo showed the world that it is without question the most competitive sport in the world.
The Rio 2016 Olympic Games saw 26 countries medal with the eyes of the world watching the pulse-pounding action unfold as judo dominated the attention of the international media.
Judo continues to thrive around the world with new member federations joining the IJF and the level of high-performance judoka in developing nations is improving as a result of projects such as the IJF Academy, Judo for Children and Judo for Peace.
After three days of world-class judo in the Netherlands, 27 countries left The Hague with a medal as countries from four different continents left with honours: Europe, Asia, Africa and Pan America.
Cameroon enter uncharted territory with first IJF World Judo Tour medal
Cameroon were among the medal winners as heavyweight Hortence Vanessa MBALLA ATANGANA (CMR) made history for the African nation. Rio 2016 Olympian MBALLA ATANGANA reeled off remarkable wins over Budapest Grand Prix bronze medallist JIANG Yanan (CHN), world number two Larisa CERIC (BIH) and Abu Dhabi Grand Slam silver medallist Anne Fatoumata M BAIRO (FRA) before losing the final on shidos against Maryna SLUTSKAYA (BLR).
MBALLA ATANGANA (above - white judogi) did not concede a single score in her four contests and will jump up the rankings from her lowly position of 36th towards the top 18 where the impressive heavyweight needs to be to qualify for Tokyo 2020.
Neil Adams’ Technical Analysis
IJF Hall of Famer Neil ADAMS, who was in The Hague in his commentary role for the IJF, shared his technical feedback on the final Grand Prix of the 2018 season.
One of the things that’s really stood out with this tournament was the transition from ne-waza to tachi-waza as we’ve seen more time and more opportunities thanks to positive rule changes. Also the transition from groundwork to standing has been important.
As long as one person is up and in a standing person, one with intent it has to be, intent is really the key word, to throw, the person on the ground is still in danger. It’s great to see so many ippons and its moving judo forward. There’s now a really good balance between groundwork and tachi-waza. I believe we have to push it at the lower levels.
The interpretation here is fantastic with more time on ground and more ippons. This needs to be reflected in each country and all levels must be instructed to apply the same rules and interpretations.
It’s very important for all referees at lower levels within their own countries to up skill. I have seen a difference at regional events and we have to promote these positive habits from the grassroots up.
After watching this weekend, where the rules were applied clearly and fairly, elite judoka know better than ever that they have to avoid negative actions and must be committed to tachi-waza and ne-waza and the transitions in between.
There’s a lot to be excited about now for judo fans and for our sport at large.
British legend Neil Adams is double Olympic silver medallist, 1981 world champion and five-time European champion. IJF Commentator and Technical Adviser Adams, who is known as the ‘Voice of Judo’, moved into coaching after his remarkable competitive career and had spells with the Welsh Judo Association, British Judo Association and in Belgium.
Judo goes home next week for Osaka Grand Slam 2018
The IJF World Judo Tour moves on to Japan, the sport’s homeland, for the penultimate event of the season as the Osaka Grand Slam will host the best of the best judoka from Friday 23 to Sunday 25 November. Osaka will feature an all-star field with 454 judoka from 75 counties including Olympic and world champions from the host nation and from abroad as every participant aims to win Japan’s blockbuster competition. The All Japan Judo Federation (AJJF) have picked their strongest team with two current Olympic champions and their seven world champions from Baku 2018 being called upon for the final Grand Slam of the year.
Olympic champions ONO Shohei (-73kg) and BAKER Mashu (-90kg) and world champions TAKATO Naohisa (-60kg), ABE Hifumi (-66kg), ABE Uta (-52kg), YOSHIDA Tsukasa (-57kg), ARAI Chizuru (-70kg), HAMADA Shori (-78kg) and ASAHINA Sarah (+78kg) will all compete at #JudoOsaka2018