Grigalashvili, Van Lieshout steal show on Day 3 of World Judo in Abu Dhabi - GulfToday

Grigalashvili, Van Lieshout steal show on Day 3 of World Judo in Abu Dhabi


Participants in action during the third day of World Judo Championships at the Mubadala Arena in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

Tato Grigalashvili of Georgia and Joanne Van Lieshout from The Netherlands hogged the limelight at the end of the third day at the World Judo Championships Abu Dhabi 2024 at the Mubadala Arena.

Van Lieshout became the first world champion for the Dutch women’s team since 2009 when she outclassed Poland’s Angelika Szymanska in the -63kg category, while the 24-year-old Grigalashvili took his third successive world championship gold with a win against Timur Arbuzov in the men’s -81kg to become the first-ever Georgian judoka to win three successive world titles.

The last three finals in-a-row of the -81kg category at the world championships had been contested by Matthias Casse of Belgium and Grigalashvili. And with the two coming into the Abu Dhabi World Championships 2024 as the top seeds, the stage was set for an eye-catching potential fourth final.

But nothing like that happened as Casse’s dreams of regaining the world title were cut short in the third round by the promising 20-year-old Arbuzov, who went on to surprise everyone, himself included, by powering into the final.

However, Arbuzov’s form isn’t all that surprising. He first appeared on the IJF World Judo Tour in Ulaanbaatar in 2023 but made his first mark this year at the Paris Grand Slam, taking bronze, before storming to gold at the Tbilisi Grand Slam the following month.

In Abu Dhabi, he used his prodigious agility and technical prowess in both the standing and groundwork phases to battle through to the final, where he came across a very focused Grigalashvili, who, even though contesting with a head injury, was in no mood to surrender his crown.

The final more than lived up to those from recent years with both Grigalashvili and Arbuzov in an unrelenting form. Both judokas engaged all their knowledge and creativity in search of a way through the other’s defences, creating several frantic attacking exchanges.

But the action had to be halted twice for Grigalashvili to receive treatment after a clash of heads early in the contest. Returning to the tatami for the second time and with just 10 seconds left on the clock, the Georgian mustered all of his strength to throw Arbuzov with ura-nage and score a decisive waza-ari and bag his fourth world title.

Korea’s Lee Joon-hwan and Tajikistan’s Somon Makhmadbekov took the two bronze medals on offer.

The women’s -63kg category was also an engrossing affair with Beauchemin-Pinard of Canada and Katharina Haecker of Austria going in as the top two seeds along with challengers Laura Fazliu and Gili Sharir of Israel in No. 3 and 4.

Of these four, only two made it to a medal contest, with Polish girl Angelika Szymanska coming in as the main challenger to Van Lieshout. In the end though it was a counter to an uchi-mata from Szymanska that finished the contest, sending a waza-ari to the Dutch competitor only half a minute before the end and the Netherlands had their first world champion for the women’s team since 2009. The bronze medals went to Clarisse Agbegnonou of France and Laura Fazliu.

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