This week the IJF announced that the categories U55kg and U44kg will be cancelled in all competitions, effective immediately. The reason for this decision remains unclear, but rumors say that it is done for the safety of the athletes; to prevent cases of athletes who cut too much weight for a long period of time to be able to stay in the lightest weight category.
This decision is a rollback to the old weight categories of 2008. In the past, there was no U55kg and U44kg categories in juniors, and lightweight cadets of U50kg and U40kg had to jump to U60kg and U48kg respectively the year they turned 18. To close the gaps of 8 and 10 kilograms, new weight categories were introduced to make the step from cadets to juniors easier and more logic.
When I come to make up my mind as a coach and dietitian about this decision there is a big difference between calendrical age and physical maturity.
Some athletes will be fully grown by the time they finish their cadet career, but others are a little bit behind and still need to grow and further develop. By canceling the two lightest weights in Juniors you might take competing and development opportunities away from late bloomers lightweights.
While U55kg and U44kg seems pretty light for athletes above 18 years old, these categories don’t have any less competitors than heavyweights, which demonstrate that there is a need for such categories.
The first competition for juniors is less than 3 weeks from now, and I’m curious to know how many of the U44kg and U55kg athletes will decide to compete. I wish all lightweight athletes easy transition and good luck!
Later more opinion from Amelie Rosseneu. Check her website for more diet tips for top athletes.
Also read this article about the cancellation of the two weights for juniors.