France and Russia were the top seeds and actually reached the final of the Team event at the Junior World Championships in Olbia. Joan-Benjamin Gaba already fought quite a few matches in the qualifiers, with long golden scores and a lot of energy left on the tatami. In the first bout of the final he was opposed to Saikhan Shabikhanov in what quickly looked like an intense match and it was. Attacks were coming from both sides, the two athletes always, at the very last moment, managing to escape from unbelievable situations.
Step by step the French judoka seemed to take advantage over his opponent, who was penalised. After a long golden score, Saikhan Shabikhanov received a third shido that gave the point to Gaba and France, but what a match!
Mélodie Turpin and Francis Damier quickly gave two more points to team France, both winning by ippon, before Coralie Hayme, the new heavy weight world champion, stepped on the tatami aigainst Alana Alborova. With one gold medal already medal in her pocket after the individual tournament, Hayme still had some pressure on her shoulders, to confirm her results from the day before and to give the victory to her delegation.
She succeeded with both. After a confused sequence, Hayme landed on her opponent. She didn't let the chance pass by and she pinned Alborova to give the fourth point to France. The juniors being world champions now, after their elders became Olympic Champions a few months ago, France confirm they are more than just a group of athletes, but definitely a real team with an incredible team spirit. It is definitely because they are united on and off the tatami that they can go way further than any other delegation for the time being.
Impressive was the performance of Joan-Benjamin Gaba in the team event. He amazed us by the number of minutes he spent on the mat, attacking non-stop, defending as often and always in the right position and with the correct attitude to avoid being thrown. He had very strong attacks, maybe lacking a bit of precision when he needed to conclude, but still he was always on the move. He was physically perfectly fit despite the length of the matches, like he would never get tired.
-73 kg GABA Joan-Benjamin vs SHABIKHANOV Saikhan
-70 kg TURPIN Melodie vs VASILEVA Daria
-90 kg DAMIER Francis vs DRANOVSKII Daniil
+70 kg HAYME Coralie vs ALBOROVA Alana
+90 kg SAPARBAEV Khamzat vs IAKUSHEV Dmitrii
-57 kg MOKDAR Faiza vs ELKINA Natalia
Germany takes team bronze
In the match for bronze between the Ukraine and Germany there was a golden score taking seven minutes where Rostyslav Berezhnyi brought the first point to Ukraine, Jano Ruebo (GER) having been penalised three times. Nataliia Chystiakova won the second point for Ukraine after defeating Friederike Stolze at -70kg, with a waza-ari score via a counterattack and the a few seconds later she pinned the German judoka for ippon. A third point for team Ukraine was not long to follow, with Tymur Valieiev winning against Fabian Kansy. Still everything was still possible as Germany had already one point, from Ukraine missing an athlete in the -57kg weight category.
It was the turn of Ruslana Bulavina and Anna Monta Olek to step on the mat. The mission of the new German world champion was simple: win! She did it in style, with a first waza-ari and an osae-komi-waza for ippon. When Losseni Kone won the third point for Germany, the teams were tied 3-3. It was time to draw a category to know who the winner would be. Unfortunately for Ukraine, -57kg was drawn and Germany won the bronze medal.
Turkey Steps Onto the Podium in Olbia
The first point against Hungary went to Turkey, with Umalt Demirel executing a beautiful uchi-mata for ippon against Botond Toth. Szofi won all her matches today until the bronze medal match and then she did it again against Habibe Afyonlu, after the latter was disqualified for applying a forbidden technique. 1-1.
Peter Safrany of Hungary is the new world champion in his category, but twice today he lost matches that he should have won, based on his level. This time Omer Aydin threw him for waza-ari and controlled the rest of the bout to bring one more point to Turkey. The third point for Turkey came straight after, with Hilal Ozturk pinning Szilvia Farkas for ippon.
Richard Sipocz did not show great judo through the morning, but for a bronze medal everything is possible and he threw Munir Ertug with a massive one-handed sode-tsuri-komi-goshi. Anna Kriza could then not do anything to stop Ozlen Yildiz from scoring the last point for Turkey, to win the mixed team second bronze medal.
It was interesting to see Ozbas as lighter athlete. She has had four bouts and has won them all against heavier women. This is not new; we have already seen it at other times, the last one at the Tokyo Olympics. The French powerhouse Clarisse Agbégnénou won both of her matches, in the semi-finals and in the final, against heavier opponents. Ozbas has done the same. This happens because the lighter ones are faster and are generally smaller, therefore have a lower centre of gravity and pose many problems to the heavier ones. There is not much difference in strength or power, sometimes even none, but in mobility. Speed and a winning mindset are the keys to success, but today was a team effort.