From Lisbon to Antalya, passing through Paris and Tel Aviv, were one grand prix and three grand slams. They are many points in a short time and represent the opportunity to be in the noble zone of the world ranking before the Olympic race begins. We have seen a lot of movement, landslides and new impulses. We have also seen the old guard not wanting to give up their privileges. At the moment the matter is most interesting.
Indeed, the emergence of a new generation that arrives with the knife between its teeth and no complex, is taking place. They are young people from Georgia, Hungary, France and Mongolia, to give clear examples. They are countries that embrace the future and respect the present. They have understood that investing with the intention of making a profit requires time and patience.
There are the cases of Szofi Ozbas, Léa Fontaine or Giorgi Terashvili. They are the consequence of the results of the veterans, the most seasoned, whom they observe and admire, but whom they also want to unseat. It is what is called the natural evolution of things.
We have witnessed with relief the reappearance of Anna-Maria Wagner, who seems to have overcome her fears. The best thing has been her transformation because the German is impressive when she is fit, but in Antalya she had to learn to win with her guts, to impose her will over her exhaustion in a sullen final in which she was dominated.
Another important fact is the resurrection of Marie-Eve Gahié. It seemed that the Frenchwoman was disorientated, unwilling and with a judo well below her level. In the same way, it seemed that her eternal rival, Margaux Pinot, had taken the measure of the same category. The victory of the first against the second opens a new chapter in the already eternal duel between the two to obtain the Olympic ticket.
Speaking of evolution, there is one that this time has taken a significant leap in quality. Jorge Fonseca had us used to him shining in the big events while disappointing in the rest of the tournaments. His victories in Lisbon and Antalya reflect the clear dominance of the Portuguese man who, finally, it seems, is not satisfied with ringing the bell once a year. Fonseca wins and he does it like a beast, displaying enormous power that, for the time being, no-one this year has been able to counteract.
What we have not seen, with the exception of Paris, is the Japanese, and in France they presented a team that oscillated between classes A, B and C. There they won quite a few gold medals, a way of affirming that they are always present and that not thinking of them would be a regrettable mistake. However, there is no news of the Olympic champions beyond the results obtained at the national level, which is an indication, but not an irrefutable fact.
What is clear at this point is that the categories remain more or less unchanged, although the progression of the new promises is noticeable. It is also a fact that the best, with some notable exceptions, materialise when they really need to, at least so far this year. All this tells us that the World Championships in Tashkent in October is going to look great because it appears on the calendar when the really serious stuff gets going. A universal title and a good handful of points can be decisive for Paris 2024. The good thing is that the judoka know all this; they know where and when to put all the meat on the grill. The problem is that reality often spoils a wonderful theory and so surprises arise.
And this is only the beginning.