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Daria Bilodid starts her ultimate year in Paris

6 Feb 2020 07:55

 Mark Pickering - IJF    Paco Lozano / Judo y Otros
20190825_tokyo_wch_pl_72318061_daria_bilodid

Double world champion Daria Bilodid, 19, is mere months away from her first Olympic Games and her first opportunity to capture the sport’s greatest prize. Not many athletes have found the key to defeat the teenager. The Japanese suffer from a 0-8 against Bilodid. The super Ukrainian talent is tipped to meet new opposition in the form of Paris debutant Koga Wakana.

The Ukrainian sensation looks unstoppable on her road to Tokyo 2020 but now the pressure and expectancy on her young shoulders has reached almost unbearable levels as the -48kg dynamo carries the weight of a nation into the summer spectacle.

Bilodid was beaten once last year as she slipped to her first defeat since 2017 as France’s Melanie Clement shocked the world by scoring twice against the teen wonder.

The three-time Grand Slam winner, who is riding a 13-fight winning-streak since her loss to Clement, is the only champion on the IJF World Judo Tour who has never lost against Japanese opposition.

That remarkable and unheard of feat features a 4-0 clean sweep over her nearest rival Tonaki Funa who finished second in their 2018 and 2019 World Championship finals.

Bilodid could be set to face new Japanese opposition in Paris and an opponent even younger than herself.

Junior World Championships winner Koga Wakana, 18, has been fast-tracked in the Japanese setup having claimed Montreal Grand Prix gold and bronze at the Osaka Grand Slam either side of her age group title in 2019.

Koga will walk into the AccorHotels Arena with nothing to lose and everything to gain and would love to match her skills against the category’s standard-bearer who will, at some point of her fairytale career, emerge on the losing side against a Japanese judoka. 

The photos are made by Spanish top photographer Paco Lozano

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  • Daria Bilodid (UKR) - World Championships Tokyo (2019, JPN) - © Paco Lozano, Judo y Otros
  • Daria Bilodid (UKR) - World Championships Tokyo (2019, JPN) - © Paco Lozano, Judo y Otros
  • Daria Bilodid (UKR) - World Championships Tokyo (2019, JPN) - © Paco Lozano, Judo y Otros

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