The latest Judo News offered by

Tal Flicker world number one, but 20-Year old Hifumi Abe poised to win U66kg

29 Aug 2017 00:05

 by JudoInside and JudoCrazy    IJF Media Team / International Judo Federation

The U66kg division at the World Championships in Budapest is an interesting category with a few top prospects and many dark horses who may just pull off an upset. Tal Flicker of Israel is leading the seeding list since South Korea's An Bauls points got reduced. Flicker is the first man for Israel to lead the IJF World Ranking since the ranking launch in 2009.

But rankings often do not reflect who is the real top favorite. In this case, the one who many people think will win the gold is 5th ranked Hifumi Abe of Japan. An, a former World Champion, is surely a top prospect for the final. He has not fought in many major tournaments since the 2016 Rio Olympics, where he got silver. However, he won the 2017 Asian Championships. He has only fought Abe once, back in 2014 in the World Junior Championships. He lost that one.

Abe, who is still just 20 years old, has a string of stunning victories over the past year. He won gold at the 2016 Tyumen Grand Slam, the 2016 Tokyo Grand Slam, and the 2017 Paris Grand Slam, all very convincingly. There simply isn't any player around who is as dynamic as this young superstar. He is the firm favorite for gold.

One player who might be able to upset him on the way to the top, if they happen to meet in the preliminary rounds, is Mongolia's Tumurkhuleg Davaadorj, who has fought and beaten Abe twice. But this was back in 2015. Abe has come a long way since then. Still, the cagey Mongolian might be Abe's undoing.

Tal Flicker of Israel is the first seeded in the World Ranking since An's Olympic points got reduced. He won in Baku and Cancun this year (it’s up or down) and he definitely has the pace to perform and take a first World medal.

Former World Champion Georgii Zantaraia did poorly in the 2016 Rio Olympics, but he has bounced back this year, winning the 2017 European Championships. He was close to an early retirement but the European title brought back his confidence. He also got a silver medal at the 2017 Hohhot Grand Prix. The only time he fought Abe and An was at the same competition, the 2014 Tokyo Grand Slam, where he lost to both of them. But Zantaraia is a such an unpredictable, explosive, and dynamic player. On a good day he can beat anyone in the world and he might just be able to pull it off in Budapest. Read the Zantaraia special in JudoCrazy’s Magazine.

Two dark horses with big throws are Nijat Shikhalizada of Azerbaijan and Charles Chibana of Brazil. Neither has fought Abe before. It would be an interesting encounter if they did in Budapest. Another dark horse worth mentioning is Abdula Abdulzhalilov of Russia who has had some very good results lately, including golds at the 2017 Ekaterinburg Grand Slam, the 2017 Antalya Grand Prix and the 2016 Qingdao Grand Prix.  He lost to An in 2017 Rome World Cup, though, and he has never fought Abe.

This won’t be the quarter final…but theoretically could be

Tal Flicker vs Sergiu Oleinic

Ba-Ul An vs Vazha Margvelashvili

Hifumi Abe vs Charles Chibana

Baruch Shmailov vs Nijat Shikhalizada

Previous World Champions

1999      Larbi Benboudaoud (FRA)

2001      Arash Miresmaeili (IRI)

2003      Arash Miresmaeili (IRI)

2005      João Derly (BRA)

2007      João Derly (BRA)

2009      Tsagaanbaatar Khashbaatar (MGL)

2010      Junpei Morishita (JPN)

2011      Masashi Ebinuma (JPN)

2013      Masashi Ebinuma (JPN)

2014      Masashi Ebinuma (JPN)

2015      Ba-Ul An (KOR)

The Game Changers

Italy's Fabio Basile has only competed once since winning the gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He took part in the 2016 Tokyo Grand Slam where he lost his first match to a relatively unknown Japanese player named Norihito Isoda (currently ranked No. 50). Since then he has taken part in a dance contest, but no judo. He has been training over the last few months, however. He is not the favourite, but with his good confidence, this is the podium to get back on top.

You bet the Russians will have a great World Championships team. Mikhail Pulyaev is still among the best players of the world. Not seeded, not in the IJF Tour in 2017, but still a solid medal contender.

Related judoka and events

Related Judo Photos

  • Hifumi Abe (JPN) - World Championships Budapest (2017, HUN) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation
  • Tal Flicker (ISR) - World Championships Budapest (2017, HUN) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation
  • Ba-Ul An (KOR) - World Championships Budapest (2017, HUN) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation

Related Judo Videos

Related Judo News


Tokyo Preview Men U66kg: Japanese will likely destroy the rest

26 Aug 2019 00:10

The U66kg category in Tokyo is hard to predict, but when it comes to the finallists, it’s doable as some athletes are way above the rest. There are two Japanese in this category and the gold could easily go to either one. Abe is the more accomplished internationally but the older Maruyama has beaten Abe in both domestic and international competitions. Read more


Georgii Zantaraia and Idalys Ortiz are World Championships legends

15 Aug 2019 10:25

Without Teddy Riner Cuban judo star Idalys Ortiz is the one with the most World Championships medals fighting in Tokyo. The Cuban heavyweight captured seven World Championships medals in her career. In 2009 she won her first and in 2013 and 2014 she took the world title. Read more


Golden Georgii Zantaraia still going strong

2 Jul 2019 09:50

One of judo's most exciting players, Georgii Zantaraia, was only 21 years old when he won the World title in 2009 at the Rotterdam World Championships. Last week he was again on form when he won the European Games in Minsk giving him another stepping stone to take the World title, 10 years after his remarkable first. Read more


Bilodid and Zantaraia strikes again with two European gold medals

22 Jun 2019 18:25

The Ukraine lead after the first day of the European Games in Minsk. The Ukraine collected two gold medals at the judo tournament. The first gold was expected for World Champion Daria Bilodid. She was warned for her recent loss in the final in Tbilisi but this time she was able to resist the pressure on her tiny shoulders. Read more


Surprise Denis Vieru claims Moldova’s first Grand Slam crown

9 Feb 2019 18:30

Budapest Grand Prix bronze medallist Denis Vieru (MDA) won his first Grand Slam final to record his country’s first win at a Grand Slam. Vieru was tipped to play second fiddle to former world bronze medallist Vazha Margvelashvili (GEO) but the former upstaged his Georgian rival and one-time Grand Slam winner with a majestic tai-otoshi earning ippon in the U66kg final. Read more

Judo birthday

Result City Date
1Tokyo1 Sep
1Tokyo27 Aug
1Fukuoka7 Apr
1Düsseldorf22 Feb
Result City Date
3Brasilia7 Oct
1Tokyo1 Sep
1Montreal5 Jul
2Fukuoka7 Apr
1Paris9 Feb


First description Second description Third description Four description