by Brian N. Watson

The recently concluded World Championships held in Osaka, Japan, from September 11th to 14th certainly provided surprises.Perhaps most notably were the victories in the Women’s -63 kilo event by Daniela Krukower of Argentina and Arash Mir Esmaieli of Iran in the Men’s -66 kilo category.Another surprise was the failure of the Europeans to take gold medals, particularly the leading French and Russian stars, there was, however, one exception, Florian Wanner of Germany, who captured the -81 kilo gold.

Some of the best throwing techniques in this championship came from the Asians, especially the Koreans, Japanese and Chinese.Whereas the Europeans seemed to take a decidedly negative approach, mainly concentrating on fighting for grips, and even when they did take hold, they often failed to capitalize on chances.Many of their contests were scrappy with few clean scores of ippon.On the other hand, the Asians were more positive and showed the world how to THROW opponents for ippon.This they did by making excellent use of left and right side ouchi-gari in particular, as well as ippon seioi-nage and tai-otoshi, a throw that seems to have come back into fashion, in addition to the usual favourites of uchi-mata and osoto-gari.

The two outstanding male and female stars were Kosei Inoue and Ryoko Tamura.Tamura, by capturing her sixth consecutive world title, proved that she is still nowhere near retirement and won most of her bouts by ippon with a scintillating display of fast attacking judo, relying mostly on tai-otoshi, ippon seioi-nage and osoto-gari.Kosei Inoue won his bouts with ease; no-one seemed to trouble him.He smashed the opposition with powerful morote seioi-nage, uchi-mata and on one occasion scored a spectacular ippon with right side yama-arashi.

The British medallists were Karina Bryant who took silver in the Women’s Open and bronze in the +78 event and Craig Fallon who gained silver in the Men’s –60 kilo category.Georgina Singleton in the –52 kilo and Kate Howey in the –70 kilo events unfortunately missed out on medals, both coming fifth in their respective events.The Germans performed well as did some of the Brazilian and Dutch players.

All attention is now focussed on the 2004 Olympics in Athens.A number of Europeans certainly have the ability to take gold medals in next year’s Olympics if like the Koreans and Japanese they go for throws rather than as many do concentrate on trying to maul the opponent to the mat, which not only is extremely tiring, but often fails to gain ippon.

See the Final Results

fanicon 2003 World Judo Championships