Romane Dicko harvests medals in Paris
French world champion Romane Dicko arrived to rapturous applause in advance of her final in Paris but Kayra Ozdemir of Turkiye is too experienced to be fazed by such things and she simply got down to work, knowing the task ahead would not be easy to complete. 'Not easy' turned out to be a vast under-statement as the first attack of the contest was a perfectly timed ashi-guruma from Dicko that spun Ozdemir to the tatami for a waz-ari, leading directly into the hold to complete the job. Dicko looked sharp and thrilleed the crowd exactly the way she intends to do in a few months from now under the lights of the Eiffel Tower.
A bronze medal would belong to either Arai or Hershko. It was not an open contest but with some clever grip work from the Israeli, stopping the throwing hand of Arai from ever reaching her lapel, she out-attacked, out-manoeuvered and out-strategised the young Japanese competitor and took the bronze with experience and analysis being her most lethal weapons.
Number one seed Raz Hershko (ISR) did her job and did it well all the way to the semi-final. Number two seed Romane Dicko (FRA) did her job and did it well all the way to the semi-final. Number three seed Lea Fontaine (FRA) did her job and did it well all the way to the semi-final. Guess what? Number 4 seed Kayra Ozdemir (TUR) did her job and did it well all the way to the semi-final.
This is almost unheard of at the biggest events. Seeding gives us an indication, an idea of who might be in the mix among the medal fights. It tells us something about overall consistency and about trends but it can never be a guarantee of who will reach the final 4 of a specific event. Today, however, it did.
Along the way we saw Lea Fontaine launch Arai (JPN) in only 9 seconds with uchi-mata and we saw Ozdemir use a very effective hiza guruma twice to pass M Bairo (FRA) in just 40 seconds.
In the first semi-final Hershko struggled under the powerful double collar grip of Ozdemir and tried to escape it by using a poorly prepared seoi-otoshi but the Turkish judoka was ready and drove through Hershko to the floor, finishing with a hold for ippon.
In the second semi-final Dicko dominated and employed the rules expertly to ensure Fontaine could not maximise any of the positions in the fight. Dicko gripped perfectly and won the contest tactically in just two minutes. One Frenchwoman would be in the final and the other would face Ozturk for a bronze medal.
Fontaine wasted no time at all countering a first attack from Ozturk which lacked kuzushi. The French judoka kept the tension and settled into a kami-shiho-gatame for ippon, celebrated loudly by her home crowd.
Dicko won all podium places in Paris over the last years, but at least the title she doubled on Sunday.