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Japan wins the World Mixed team title

Japan wins the World Mixed team title

15 May 2023 06:05
IJF Media team by Callum MacLennan and JudoInside
IJF Media Team / International Judo Federation

Japan have won the 6th edition of the mixed team world championships. In Doha 18 teams competed from 4 continents. In the four previous world mixed team finals between France and Japan, the French have never won more than two of the six contests. In Doha, everything changed.

In the first contest, at -73kg, Gaba defeated former world champion Soichi Hashimoto by ippon with uchi-mata in just 20 seconds. Margaux Pinot then defeated Saki Niizoe, who was crowned world champion just days earlier, in golden score. Goki Tajima then got one back for the Japanese, throwing Ngayap Hambou in golden score, also with uchi-mata. There was then a win apiece on penalties for France’s Coralie Hayme and Japan’s Saito, meaning that France held a 3-2 lead going into the final contest, at -57kg.

Cysique came out firing on all cylinders, quickly throwing Haruka Funakubo for waza-ari with uchi-mata but incredibly, Funakubo came back to pin Cysique with yoko-shiho-gatame for ippon and level the scores at 3-3. The category drawn to refight was the -70kg; Pinot and Niizoe had to go again. The two tussled for more than 6 minutes and although Pinot was more offensive, 3 attacking errors caused the Frenchwoman to pick up 3 penalties. It was hansoku-make for Pinot and victory was Japan’s.

The first bronze medal match would see Georgia take on Germany, one of last year’s bronze medallists. The match went back-and-forth, with the teams taking turns to win the contests. That was until the very last contest, where Eteri Liparteliani threw her counterpart with tsubame-gaeshi for waza-ari and held on to give Georgia a 4-2 victory and their first ever mixed teams medal. Judo has long been a male-dominated sport in the country and this medal illustrates just how far they’ve come towards changing that; thanks, in part, to Liparteliani and her success.

The second bronze medal match was a battle between Morocco and the Netherlands. This was always going to be a tough match for the African team and it got off to the worst possible start, as Hassan Doukkali was disqualified for a head dive against Koen Heg in the first contest. From there it was an uphill battle and with a double hansoku-make for Achraf Moutii and Van ‘t End, the Netherlands only needed two other wins to take the bronze, which came from Kim Polling and Guusje Steenhuis. Heartbreak for Morocco, while the Netherlands celebrate their first ever mixed team medal, along with Georgia.

The ABHA Arena in Qatar’s capital city saw an early match in Round 1 between Georgia and Mongolia, two of the strongest delegations in the tournament. The Georgians edged the match 4-2 after a final win from Eteri Askilashvili over Nyam-Erdene Batsuuri.  Also in the 1st round, Morocco, the only African team in the competition, dominated Greece with a convincing 4-0 victory. This is only the second time an African team has been present at this event, after Algeria competed in 2017.

The first match of round 2 was another big clash, with perennial world mixed team champions Japan taking on the Republic of Korea. Wins from Hayun Kim and Minjong Kim put the Koreans ahead but Japan came back to take the victory comfortably, 4-2. Pool A’s other round 2 pairing was a closely contested match between Georgia and Brazil, which ended with a golden score decider at -90kg between Doha world champion Luka Maisuradze (GEO) and Rafael Macedo (BRA). The world champion eventually won for a second time to take Georgia through to face Japan in the quarter-finals.

In Pool B there was another decider between the Netherlands and Cuba and once again it was the -90kg fighters who were drawn to refight, with Noel Van ‘t End beating Ivan Felipe Silva Morales for the second time in a row to take the Netherlands through. In the other round 2 match, Uzbekistan took a 4-0 victory over the IJF Refugee Team.

Pool C had France taking a solid 4-1 victory over Lithuania, another newcomer to the event, in their round 2 match. Bulgaria and Romania faced-off for a place in the quarter-finals, with this match also going to a golden score decider. The -57kg fighters, Gabriela Dimitrova and Alexandra Pop, had to fight again and incredibly Pop was able to reverse the result of their previous fight, applying okuri-eri-jime to submit the Bulgarian after 6 minutes of extra fighting.

In round 2 of Pool D, Germany took an impressive 4-0 win over Kazakhstan, which included a win for Alexander Gabler over the veteran Zhansay Smagulov in an exciting back-and-forth contest. Even more impressive was a 4-3 win for Morocco over Austria, with Mohammed Lahboub the hero; he beat the powerful Aaron Fara twice to take his country through to the quarter-finals. In that round however, Germany dominated, taking a convincing 4-0 victory. Morocco dropped down to the repechage.

Georgia began in style against Japan in their quarter-final, with Guram Tushishvili throwing Tatsuru Saito for ippon with a beautiful ko-uchi-gari, after losing out to Saito in the individual competition. Their joy was short-lived, though, as Japan won the next 4 contests, including a win for Goki Tajima by waza-ari over nee world champion Maisuradze. France’s quarter-final with Romania was a one-sided affair; a 4-0 victory took them through to their semi-final to face Germany.

The last quarter-final, between the Netherlands and Uzbekistan, was very evenly-matched and once again went to a deciding contest. Yet again, it was the -90kg players who were drawn to refight and Noel Van ‘t End defeated Jakhongir Mamatrakhimov faster the second time round, throwing him with sode-tsurikomi-goshi for ippon in the first minute.

The first of the repechage matches was fought between Romania and Morocco and the African nation continued their fantastic form, narrowly winning the match 4-2. The second saw a heavyweight clash between Georgia and Uzbekistan to decide who among them would contest the second bronze medal match. The teams alternated wins all the way through until the last contest, which was between Guram Tushishvili and the previous day’s bronze medallist Alisher Yusupov. Tushishvili countered Yusupov for ippon and Georgia took the victory, 4-2.

In the first semi-final, the Netherlands fought valiantly against Japan, taking two solid wins thanks to Sanne Van Dijke and Karen Stevenson but the Japanese eased to victory in the other fights, the highlight of which was a massive sode-tsurikomi-goshi from Goki Tajima against Frank De Wit. Saito sealed a 4-2 victory for them with an ippon win over Roy Meyer in the final contest.

The second semi-final saw France take on Germany and besides a narrow victory for the Germans from Martin Matijass over Maxime Gael Ngayap Hambou, France once again dominated the match in the end, winning 4-1 with big throws from Sarah Leonie Cysique, Joan-Benjamin Gaba and Marie-Eve Gahie in their respective contests.

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