Day three of the Abu Dhabi World Championships 2024 saw the athletes in the -63kg and -81kg categories go for world glory. A total of 108 athletes stepped on to the tatami at the Mubadala Arena and produced a breathtaking day of judo, with no shortage of upsets.

At -63kg, the defending and six-time champion Clarisse Agbegnenou (FRA) was unable to obtain a record-equalling seventh women's world title, losing out to Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard (CAN) at the quarter-final stage. In a repeat of the 2021 and 2023 world finals, Agbegnenou defeated Andreja Leski (SLO) in the bronze medal contest. Beauchemin-Pinard had to settle for fifth place, as she was thrown by Laura Fazliu (KOS) in the other bronze medal contest.

Agbegnenou’s earlier defeat meant there was certain to be a new world champion in the category and it was 21-year-old Joanne Van Lieshout who stepped up to the plate, defeating Angelika Szymanska (POL) in the final. After two junior world titles in 2021 and 2022 and a senior world bronze in 2023, she became the first female world champion for the Netherlands since Marhinde Verkerk in 2009.

The possibility of a fourth world final in a row at -81kg between Matthias Casse (BEL) and Tato Grigalashvili (GEO) was ended in round three, as the former was defeated and replaced in the final by 20-year-old Timur Arbuzov (AIN). Grigalashvili proved to be a step too far for the youngster, however, and the Georgian claimed his third world title in a row, becoming the first athlete from his nation to win three world championship gold medals.

There was also a first world bronze medal for Somon Makhmadbekov (TJK), which was only the second world championship medal in his country’s history, and there was also a second world bronze medal in a row for Joonhwan Lee (KOR).

There were yet more twists and turns in several internal races for Olympic qualification. Arbuzov’s silver medal propels him into a direct qualification position ahead of fellow neutral athlete David Karapetyan, who finished seventh and occupied a continental quota position at the beginning of the day.

Also at -81kg, the two wins from Egyptian athlete Abdelrahman Abdelghany means that he snatches the continental place occupied by compatriot Abdelrahman Mohamed, who exited the competition in the first round. Meanwhile, Iva Oberan’s seventh place finish at -63kg catches her up to teammate Katarina Kristo in the direct qualification places, giving the Croatian Judo Federation a very difficult selection decision to make.

Grigalashvili’s gold shot Georgia up to the top of the medal table, moving Japan down into second place and Italy into third. With two more days of individual competition to come and with Japan still packing plenty of firepower, whether the Georgians can hold onto the top spot remains to be seen.

The action continues on day four of these championships, which will see the athletes in the -70kg, -78kg and -90kg categories have their chance to claim the sought-after title of world champion. Watch all of the contests live at or on the new JudoTV app from 11:00 local time on Wednesday 22nd May.

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