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Women changing weight class is a relief or a solution

Women changing weight class is a relief or a solution

13 Apr 2022 20:55
by JudoCrazy and JudoInside
IJF Marina Mayorova / International Judo Federation

Among the current crop of competitors in the IJF World Tour, there’s actually quite a lot of them who have moved weight classes. Check the ones who competed in Antalya in April. These include Yeldos Smetov (KAZ) 60-66; Eric Takabatake (BRA) 60-66; Daniel Cargnin (BRA) 66-73; Alexander Wieczerzak (GER) 81-90; Christian Parlati (ITA) 81-90; Asley Gonzalez (ROU) 90-100; Angelica Delgado (USA) 52-57; Kerem Primo (ISR) 57-63; Alice Bellandi (ITA) 70-78.

There are two notable cases worth watching. The first is Olympic Champion Distria Krasniqi of Kosovo, who had won her Olympic gold at U48kg. She was originally a U52kg player but because her then-more successful teammate Majlinda Kelmendi was also in that weight class, she had to make way and move down to U48kg.

As it turned it, this was a wise move. She has an Olympic gold medal to show for it. Could she have won gold had she fought U52kg in the Tokyo Olympics? We’ll never know but Krasniqi has since moved back up to U52kg (now that Kelmendi switched to coaching).

Will Distria Krasniqi be able to win the world title in October in Tashkent? You can bet on Thbet has 8 sportsbooks for you to choose, like Ku, Tha (2), IBC, Pinnacle, CMD, AI, AG. Unless you have a better candidate to place your bet on such as Reka Pupp, Amandine Buchard and last but not least Uta Abe who is selected for the worlds in Uzbekistan as well.

So far, she has fought in three IJF World Tour events at her new weight. At the first one, the 2022 Baku Grand Slam, she failed to medal. She then won gold in the 2022 Almada Grand Prix. And, she got silver in the 2022 Paris Grand Slam. A gold medal and a silver medal in her first three IJF events at the new weight. That can be considered a success by any measure, and it will definitely be interesting to see how she fares in the coming years leading up to Paris 2024.

Stepping down in weight is quite a performance, what about Barbara Timo, the former Brazilian who fights for Portugal since 2019 and has made a remarkable step by coming from U70kg where she wasn’t performing badly. She made it to World silver in 2019 and bronze at the Grand Slam in Paris. She even won the Grand Slam in Tbilisi in that excellent year. But last year was a deception not making it to the last eight at the World Championships and Olympic Games was simply a disaster for Timo and she saw chances in U63kg. What a brave decision and what a choice that led to immediate success just after the Olympic Games. In fact without a break and taking home the gold from the Grand Slam in Paris. Okay the field was downgraded quite a bit but Timo confirmed in Antalya last weekend with an excellent bronze medal.

Another remarkable step for Bernadette Graf from Austria who was successful in U78kg since 2017. Previously she took a fifth place U70kg at the 2016 Olympics and 2015 Worlds. One weight up she won Grand Prixs in Hohhot and Tashkent and some previous World Tour medals but never a world or Olympic success. Where Austria have a choice with Olympic silver medallist Michaela Polleres, Berna still stepped down to U70kg and immediately reached the final in Antalya, what a comeback.

We obviously all look forward to the real switcher of the year: Ukraine’s Daria Bilodid, another player who has moved up weight classes and who is definitely worth watching. The double World Champion at U48kg, towered over her opponents. It’s unclear exactly which weight class she will be competing in although it’s been widely speculated that she will jump from U48kg to U57kg. She hasn’t confirmed anything yet though but it’s a certainty she will move up. Her lackluster performance at the Tokyo Olympics was most likely due to the severe dieting she had to do to make weight. It will be interesting to see if she can still dominate like she used to when her opponents are taller, heavier and stronger that what she is used to. She is practising safely in Spain now, perhaps as a preparation on the European Championships in Sofia, that would be a gift for her, for her country and judo fans.

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