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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Israel celebrates Cadet World title for Izhak Ashpiz


In the prelims Musayev (AZE) and Polikevicius (LTU) showed that ranking is important and accurate for cadets as much as it is for the seniors. The two, ranked 1 and 7 in the world, seeded 1 and 4 in Zagreb, came through their side of the draw perfectly to meet in the semi-final. Belgian, French, Romanian, Slovakian, Japanese and Canadian opponents couldn’t halt them in their tracks. Opponents from Europe, Asia and Pan-America gave it their best but the two young athletes had an answer for every question, the Lithuanian shocking Yamamoto (JPN) perhaps most of all.This week the world’s best judoka under the age of 18 fighting for world titles in the Arena Zagreb. In the U60kg category the title was captured by Izhak Ashpiz who became the first cadet of his country to win the world title in history. In the final he met with Azeri Mahammad Musayev.Bobokanolov (TJK) couldn’t quite hold on to his winning streak, losing in the semi-final to 6th seed Ashpiz (ISR). The Tajik dropped into a very much deserved bronze medal contest against Mosoi (ROU) while the other bronze was contested by Kravchenko and Polikevicius, the latter having been beaten by Musayev in their semi-final. In the end Israel celebrated a surprising world champion.The bottom half of the draw was a completely different story, with Middleton of Australia, the number 2 seed, heading to the exit after Kravchenko (UKR), from his starting position at 26th in the world, dealt with him in round 3 ahead of taking a loss against the super-strong Tajik, arriving from even further down the list: at 111.Tajikistan took home that world bronze, won with a sumi-gaeshi for waza-ari at about half time, the remaining time well managed and without too much risk.The other bronze was almost a continuous roll from standing to ground and back up again, attacks on the border or scores and shime-waza coming close to ending the contest. In one exchange Kravchenko tried to throw but with far too little rotation and the Lithuanian was there to punish it, taking his belt and rolling him with an almost perfect sumi-gaeshi for waza-ari. The Ukrainian coach protested but it was clear that the score was legitimate as Kravchenko had not put his hands on the floor and was therefore still in tachi-waza. The coach was not happy but the rules are written and published. It is important that all coaches stay up to date and ensure any protests are handled in the right way, according to the published rules.The final treated everyone to a flurry of action, both competitors finding the tiniest gaps in which to threaten. The quality of judo was easily mistakable for the older categories, anticipation being incredible from both. They each picked up two penalties by half time but the scoreboard didn’t illustrate the pace or level of the contest. Then in a 50-50 clinch the Israeli managed to land the world number one in his lower back and two elbows and so a waza-ari was scored. Disappointingly for the Azeri, there had to also be a shido for the double-elbow landing and so that was where it ended. Israel has a new world champion.

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