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Saturday, June 22, 2024

France captures World cadet title for teams


preliminariesFor the first bronze medal, Camara threw and held for two waza-ari to put the first notch on the scoreboard for Brazil. That was not, however, indicative of the route the rest of the match would take and the next three contests went to Turkiye, leaving Brazil with a lot of work to do.It was Dincer (TUR) who put the final hope to bed for Brazil, scoring the 4th point for team Turkiye with an uchi-mata to koshi-guruma combination. The first medal of the 2023 World Cadet Mixed Team Championships is a bronze and it goes to Turkiye.With the scores tied at one all it was almost like starting again and so stepped up the women over 70 kg. Leonie Minkada-Caquineau (FRA) applied a massive uchi-mata to score ippon and so France had the lead at 2-1. This is not where world number 1 Ahmadov wanted to be but he is capable of fighting anyone and handling the pressure and so he face Akiana Mongo in an almost frenzied contes.After 4 intense, thrilling, joyous days of individual competition, the best cadets in the world have regrouped and for the fifth and final day of competition they compete in their national teams: 6 athletes per team, 3 men and 3 women and 17 teams.It was as tight as a semi-final could be! France trailed 3-2 going into the last contest but in the +63 kg category Celia Cancan brought it back to evens with a win over -70 kg world silver medallist Inoue. All tied at 3-3, the random category selection for the deciding golden score contest threw up the +63 kg pairing again and in a re-run of their first meeting, Cancan used her range and stature expertly to put France into the final, beating Inoue 3-2 on penalties.At full time there were two penalties on each side of the scoreboard but as the golden score period began Ahmadov made a mistake and gave too much of his balance to the Frenchman while attempting to take a grip; punished by a massive makikomi that put France 3-2 ahead.The anomaly in cadet mixed team events is that, to ensure as many teams and athletes have the opportunity to take part as possible, judoka may fight up by two categories, that is that, for example, an -52 kg athlete could compete at -63 kg and that is exactly what happened here. The new -52 kg world champion Gadashova (AZE) was draw to face Turkiye’s -57 kg fighter, also competing up one weight group, in effect, for the whole match. As with France and Japan’s last contest, the women picked up two penalties each. It was extremely close but in the end the world champion edged its, putting in a series of positive attacks, all breaking balance to some degree and that forced the third shido in her favour.Japan just made it into their semi-final and there they met the French team, opposition they may have preferred in the final. The French team included fewer gold medallist than the Japanese team, from the individual event, but the team format perhaps favoured the French who have taken significant wins against Japan in recent years, not least of which was the 2021 Olympic Mixed Teams title.The second bronze was clear cut, no yo-yo effect at all. Japan began the match 1-0 down due to an injury in the semi-final but they quickly notched up the 4 wins needed to secure the medal and remain among the world’s best teams at all ages.We all know how strong France are in all team events but here Azerbaijan were the top seed and they had given fantastic performance throughout the day, especially considering many of the team came from the lighter end of the categories. The first contest was exactly like that with -63 kg athlete Galludec stepping forward for France against -52 kg Gadashova (AZE). Galludec wasted no time and threw the Azeri champion for ippon to secure the first point. Kotsoev then returned the favour by throwing twice to take the equaliser.The youth team of France captured the world title in Zagreb. France defeated the talented team of Azerbaijan that won the medal table in the individual tournament but France was the strongest team on Sunday. The result of the final could not be anticipated in advance.On the other side of the draw both Azerbaijan and Turkiye had fought brilliantly throughout their preliminary matches but their semi-final was a mirror image of the France-Japan semi on the tatami next door. Azerbaijan had topped the individual competition medal table after 4 days of world championship action and their team was pretty immense, on paper, but Turkiye didn’t give them a single second of respite. They pushed all the way to 3-3 and again the random draw was utilised, selecting the -63 kg category.The quarter-final between Japan and Brazil was tense, with the +81kg category being drawn to refight, in a golden score contest, a winner-takes-all decider. Miku (JPN) had just lost to Albano (BRA) by kansetsu-waza having led by waza-ari. To have another chance to bring home the win for Japan was very much needed for Nozomu Miki. He took full advantage and refused the deja vu, throwing Albano for waza-ari with a massive ko-soto-gake. Japan remained in the race for gold and an excellent Brazilian team dropped into the repechage.Le Cam was the last of the French team to step up to fight. A win would secure the gold and so win she did! She made light work of it too. A 4-2 win is respectable in every direction and the team of Azerbaijan can be very proud of their collective performances. It has been an excellent competition and all 4 medallists have showed great spirit on top of some excellent judo.

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