Matthias Casse regains the Paris title in the Olympic year
After a fifth place in 2021 and ninth in 2023, Matthias Casse regained the Paris title on Saturday in a packed Accor Arena. The Belgian former world champion won his final U81kg like he did in 2020. This time with an Azeri opponent Zelim Tckaev.
Casse who almost quietly qualified for the final where he found Zelim Tckaev (AZE). It was a very tactical contest. With his face marked by a tough day in the office, Casse was looking for the technique that would offer him the gold medal and it was a long time coming. It is only in golden score that a tremendous sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi came. Casse used Tckaev's push intelligently to turn and throw. When you don't know who you should support in this crazy category, Casse is always a serious contender for the victory. He took his 20st World Cup medal on Saturday, more than any other male judoka from Belgium. With a fifth Grand Slam victory he is even more convincing than history maker Robert van de Walle in the seventies and eighties.
Somon Makhmadbekov (TJK) passed the first rounds but fell in the semi-final against one of the strong men of the category. We will come back to this. Guilherme Schimidt (BRA), who showed great results last season, has not yet found his best level and was defeated before the final block.
Francois Gauthier Drapeau, very solid, reached the semi-final, but it was not enough. Finally, Saeid Mollaei (AZE) started well but sank against Dominic Ressel (GER), more realistic than the former world champion, the German winning in a very tactical fight.
Mihail Latisev (MDA) and Francois Gauthier Drapeau (CAN) brought up the rear for a place on the podium. The contest seemed to go straight into golden score, when Francois Gauthier Drapeau countered his opponent's o-soto-gari with another o-soto-gari for a waza-ari. With only 22 seconds left on the scoreboard, there was not enough time for Latisev to come back. This is the sixth medal in a grand slam for the Canadian judoka.
In the second match for a bronze medal, Timur Arbuzov (AIN) and Somon Makhmadbekov (TJK) faced each other. It was in the golden score period that Timur Arbuzav eventually found his chance to score with a counter-attack for waza-ari.