The U70kg category is one of those weight divisions in which some countries will have a difficult choice to make. At the Grand Slam in Tel Aviv both France and Netherlands reached the final block.
World champion in 2019, in a masterly way, Marie-Eve Gahie (FRA) seemed to have an open boulevard in front of her to qualify for the Olympic Games, but nothing is less certain after some uncharacteristically poor performances and especially in the face of the rise in power of her compatriot, Margaux Pinot, who once again made the final after her semi final victory of Sanne van Dijke, while Gahie had to be content with a bronze medal.
In the final, Pinot faced the German Miriam Butkereit, already three times a medalist in grand slam events before today. It was a close final but in the end Pinot’s experience reigned supreme and she left victorious.
For the second bronze medal we saw the two Dutch judoka face each other, yet again. It was a merciless battle between Kim Polling (NED) and Sanne Van Dijke, with a plane ticket to Tokyo still at stake. This contest was a strange one, with Polling opening her campaign with a relentless barrage of drop techniques, resulting in an early shido on the board for her rival, but Van Dijke was able to muster a new energy and came back strongly with a waza-ari throw from a counter and a very close strangle attempt. Immediately after the mate period, she went in again, with a huge hip throw and succeeded in throwing Polling for a convincing ippon. Her first (moral) victory against Polling and a bronze medal. Polling though knows her position and was satisfied as well with her style of judo, coming back slowly to her weapon before all injuries. Throwing right has been a problem for long team, even while taking bronze at the Masters in January. France is having an even more luxurious position but the truth is that Japan didn’t compete and will have Chizuru Arai fighting in the Budokan, but also she is vulnerable. The one on form in without a doubt Margaux Pinot.