Day 4 at the 2019 Judo World Championships was a day of firsts for Israel and France at the Nippon Budokan.
Israel’s men’s team have been knocking on the door of World Championship gold for decades. Could Sagi Muki become the first ever man to win a World title for Israel? He was a cut above the rest, cruising his way through the early rounds with an incredible display of judo.
The World number 2 stayed cool, calm and collected in the semi final, winning by a waza-ari and putting him in line for a clash with Belgium’s Matthias Casse.
In the -81kg final, history beckoned. Muki was just too powerful for Casse, countering the Belgian for a waza-ari, before securing the win in the following exchange with a perfectly timed seoi nage. It was fast, it was beautiful, it was history.
Muki was awarded his medal by Mr Raffaele Chiulli, President of the Global Association of International Sports Federations.
"Israel don't have a World Champion from the men's team. My coach was a silver medallist in Tokyo in 1995 - Oren Smadja. I'm so happy that I moved (up a weight) and now I'm World Champion - the first World Champion in men's for Israel, so it's a very special moment not only for me but also for my country and I'm so glad that I succeeded to do it," said Sagi Muki in an interview.
Could Clarisse Agbegnenou set a record for France by becoming their first woman to win 4 World titles? The answer was a resounding yes.
The -63kg final was a rematch of last year's world final and she faced home hero Miku Tashiro. The two are rivals on the mat, but friends off it. But it was Agbegnenou who seized the moment after over 10 minutes and the two judokas embraced at the end of an epic contest.
Jean Luc Rouge, IJF General Secretary and President of the French Judo Federation, presented Agbegnenou with her gold medal.
"It's crazy, I cannot even think. I'm so happy about this day because for everybody else when you see me fighting like that in the morning you see that it's easy, but mentally it's not and I knew that in the semi final and final it would be harder. For me it was like I said some fuel to the quarter final and semi final but the final was crazy, really crazy and I'm happy to fight with Tashiro Miku because this opponent is really the best also. So, I will say thank you to her," said Clarisse Agbegnenou in an interview.
Move of the Day
Our Move of the Day came from the outgoing world champion Saeid Mollaei of Iran. Mollaei's unique kata guruma, his trademark technique, is rarely seen in judo, but it came during his clash with Portugal's Carlos Luz in their Round 3 contest.
Finally, at the end of Day 4, hosts Japan continue to top the medals standings, with three golds, three silvers and three bronzes, followed by Georgia, Canada, France, Israel and Ukraine, each with one gold.