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Amandine Buchard looks ready for the Games

Amandine Buchard looks ready for the Games

1 Mar 2024 16:10
IJF Team by Vimal Sankar Thiruthiyil Neduvenchery and JudoInside
Tamara Kulumbegashvili - IJF

Another gold medal for Amandine Buchard at the Grand Slam in Tashkent, but she had to work hard and eventually she came away victorious in the U52 kg category, living up to the top seed billing.

Everyone would have expected Buchard to go about her business against Kenya Perna (ITA) in the -52 kg category round of 32, but she was given a wake up call by the Italian, who earned a waza-ari with an excellent sumi-gaeshi. Perna, however, was cautioned before that and was not able to keep hold of her lead, exiting with three penalties.

Buchard, an Olympic silver medallist in Tokyo, got into the groove against Aleksandra Kaleta (POL) and secured a waza-ari via seoi-nagi before sealing the deal with a second waza-ari without a hitch. Another easy win against Kokoro Fujishiro (JPN) in the quarter-final was followed by an ippon in the semi-final against fourth seed and world number 10 Bishrelt (UAE) in the semi-final.

In the final against Gulkhayo Juraeva, seeded twentieth, a waza-ari each; it was indeed an electric opening to the final between Buchard and Juraeva. The French star was not looking her usual self though. In the end, it was an ashi-waza that helped Buchard. She managed to catch Juraeva by surprise, completed the waza-ari-awasete-ippon and taking the title.

Juraeva has to be the story of the weight group in pool C, where she stunned some big names on her way to the final. In her first fight, a golden score waza-ari knocked out Micaela Sciacovelli (ITA) before a seoi-otoshi took care of twelfth seed Fabienne Kocher (SUI). An o-goshi and yoko-shiho-gatame helped the Uzbek judoka notch up waza-ari-awasete-ippon against Glafira Borisova (AIN) in the round of 16. Her biggest scalp though, in the preliminary stages, was in the quarter-final against Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist and second seed Chelsie Giles (GBR). She set up a meeting with Buchard after Sosorbaram Lkhagvasuren (MGL) lost in her semi-final.

Fujishiro’s lack of experience showed in the first bronze medal match as she was forced to make mistakes. Lkhagvasuren understood that her Japanese opponent was under pressure and happily accepted the gift. Three shidos meant that Fujishiro rwas eliminated.

In the other bronze medal match, Giles began strongly and almost had an osoto-gari in her favour against Bishrelt. However, the approach brought the British judoka two penalties. Bishrelt also picked one up but was more in control comparatively. The fight had to be settled in golden score and both athletes were focusing on the legs to score their points. More than a minute later, Bishrelt picked up another penalty, as Giles gained momentum. Three and a half minutes into golden score, Giles secured the podium position as her opponent received another shido.

Lkhagvasuren herself had an eventful day, knocking out third seed Mascha Ballhaus in golden score, following an error-prone performance from the German in round two. Paulina Martinez (MEX) was next in line but a jaw-dropping juji-gatame was enough for Lkhagvasuren to go past her. A combination of ashi-waza meant that Sofia Asvesta (CYP) was shown the door in the quarter-final.

Fifth seed Astride Gneto (FRA) fell to Bishrelt in the quarter-final in pool B when she was shocked by a sasae-tsurikomi-ashi. Despite losing in the semi-final, the judoka from UAE could still end up on the podium if she could get the better of Giles. Meanwhile, a surprise bronze medal winner was in store with Fujishiro and Lkhagvasuren facing each other.

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