The 2021 Judo World Championships kicked off in Hungary on Sunday with the lightest weight categories battling it out under the spotlight.
At -48kg, Japan’s Junior World Champion, Koga Wakana, showed great skill in both ground and standing judo as she made it to her first senior World Championship final.
Her opponent was her compatriot Tsunoda Natsumi who put on an arm-locking masterclass in her early bouts, before defeating Distria Krasniqi of Kosovo with two Tomoe-nage waza-aris as Japan flaunted their depth.
In the final, the experience of Tsunoda paid dividends as she scored first with tomoe-nage, and then again with a counterattack to secure her first World title.
International Olympic Committee member and former Hungarian President Pál Schmitt, awarded Tsunoda with her medal.
"I missed the gold medal in 2017, in the -52kg category, so I’m so happy to win this competition!" said an excited Tsunoda.
Yago Abuladze shows his class
At -60kg, Yago Abuladze of the Russian Judo Federation had the day of his life.
He defeated both Bouda of France and Shamshadin of Kazakhstan to earn himself a spot in the final against Gusman Kyrgyzbayev of Kazakhstan.
He also looked great during the day showcasing some equally dynamic judo en route to the gold medal match-up. Once there, Abuladze used his unorthodox, yet explosive standing judo to make a statement on why he deserves to be World Champion.
Evgeny Kuyvashev, Governor of the Sverdlovsk Region, awarded Yago his anticipated gold medal.
"I’m actually surprised to hear that my judo is good," explained Abuladze, "because everybody says it is strange. And about the Ne waza, I wanted to break the stereotype that Caucasian people don’t know how to fight in Ne waza, so I’ve been working on it".
Spain earned a brace of bronzes as Julia Figueroa and Francisco Garrigos showed their class.
Once again Hungary is proving it's truly a judo nation, hosting an impressive and innovative World Championships.