At the first day of the IJF World Masters last year, the five winners all made remarkable stories in 2021. In Doha the Masters gave a good insight of the strength for the Olympic Games and World Championships. With an opening day with two gold medals for Korea, one Gold for Kosovo, France and Japan. Due to the current health situation and the very strict procedures required, including not having public spectators, of course. We know better now what was going on in the world.
At the 11th of January last year Distria Krasniqi (KOS) was already unstoppable with 3x ippon, 1 waza-ari ) with total time spent on the tatami of 10 minutes and 43 seconds. Later she became Olympic Champion in this weight class U48kg.
Kim Won Jin (KOR), -60 kg had to fight a total of 20 minutes and became the world number one but finished seventh at the Games in Tokyo after he lost to French surprise Mkheidze.
In the final of -52kg, Amandine Buchard (FRA) battled with another Japanese Ai Shishime and Buchard won the IJF Masters and was amazing the rest of the year but lost that one super battle with Uta Abe.
Tsukasa Yoshida won the Masters U57kg in January but took bronze at the games in Tokyo. A tournament that was quite a surprise with Nora Gjakova taking the gold in Tokyo. Gjakova would eventually defeat Yoshida in the semi final.
An Baul of Korea was strong the whole year actually and opened 2021 with an opening at the IJF Masters where he defeated Baruch Shmailov. An was able to take a bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo but Hifumi Abe was the undisputed king in Tokyo. He didn’t compete in Doha. Margvelashvili was good in Doha with bronze and took silver in Tokyo, the best of the rest we can say.
Other winners in Doha at the second and third day were later Olympic Champion Clarisse Agbegnenou, World runner-up Yoko Ono, same for Madeleine Malonga, Olympic medallist Romane Dicko, Georgian revelation Tato Grigalashvili who took silver at the Worlds. Former world champion Noel van ‘t End, Varlam Liparteliani U100kg who took World bronze in Budapest and finished fifth in Tokyo. Big Teddy won the Masters in Doha but forgot to win his quarter final in Tokyo against Bashaev. However he came back with team gold. Different winners in Doha, all with another story in 2021. We miss the Masters and we have to wait for another two weeks for the IJF Tour begins the year 2022.