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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Matthias Casse regains Masters title


Thus it was an original final which we attended: Matthias Casse vs Guilherme Schimidt. Casse was the first to action, with a quick yoko-tomoe-nage that sent Schimidt rolling on to his back for waza-ari. The rest of the final was more tactical, Casse showing his skills in keeping the score. Over recent years, the Belgian champion has shown an incredible capacity to be always present during the big events. This is gold medal number two for Casse at the Masters.Matthias Casse took his second Masters victory in Budapest after he won it in 2019 and took bronze last year in Jerusalem. World Champion Grigalashvili won the Masters twice in a row but this time finished with bronze. The U81kg category, a show that is always there, a level that never fails, several athletes who have the potential to win; these are the ingredients of a recipe that, whatever the proportions, is always successful. When you have the best judoka on the planet present, you know you are going to get your money’s worth. Once again, the promises turned into reality and into an incredible spectacle.Schimidt (BRA) was perhaps the biggest surprise, who, although highly ranked in the world, is not always among the names of the favourites. All of his fights brought big and clever judo and to beat Olympic champion Nagase (JPN) and world champion Tato Grigalashvili (GEO). He was strategically very good and working with all his power, had a very high level of endurance, beating Tato after 5 and a half minutes in golden score. Despite the length of the fight, it was a strong fight all the way and good for the spectators.Kenya Kohara (JPN) and Tato Grigalashvili (GEO) battled it out for the second bronze medal. Tato Grigalashvili did not have a great day in the office. Still the spectacular judoka that he is, there was nevertheless something missing. Maybe it was just a little less power, less speed, a lack of timing, difficult to measure what was not there today. However, after what looked like another difficult match and with less than 20 seconds on the clock, he finally managed to catch Kohara’s belt and immediately engaged with a driving o-uchi-gari for waza-ari, enough today to win the bronze medal.The first bronze medal match between Takanori Nagase (JPN) and Saeid Mollaei (AZE) was eerily similar to the last Olympic final that saw Nagase win. This time, Mollaei took the lead to pushed Nagase to be penalised a first time. After the Japanese judoka needed a bandage because of a superficial injury, he came back to the tatami with half of his sight blocked. This didn’t seem to really bother the Olympic champion, who launched a masterpiece, an ash-guruma that unrolled Mollaei on his back. It is not often that we see the Azeri being thrown like that. It was beautifully executed and so the bronze medal has gone to Nagase.We have also seen in the last three editions of the world championships, despite incredible competition, the same final, between Tato Grigalashvili (GEO) and Matthias Casse (BEL). As the competition unfolded in front of hundreds of amazed spectators, everything seemed to indicate that once again we would witness a final between the same two champions.The first to qualify was Matthias Casse whose judo bothers Saeid Mollaei, the latter losing the semi-final by a waza-ari, letting the Belgian slip away once more.On the other side of the draw, even though Grigalashvili didn’t seem so incisive, everyone thought his semi-final against Guilherme Schimidt (BRA) would be a formality. It was quite the opposite. Solid on his feet, strong in his attacks, the Brazilian took the lead and pushed Grigalashvili into errors three times.

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