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World number one Assunta Scutto rules in Abu Dhabi

World number one Assunta Scutto rules in Abu Dhabi

24 Oct 2023 16:00
IJF Media team by Nicolas Messner
Lars Moeller - IJF / International Judo Federation

Assunta Scutto is a world number one who is well established at the top of the rankings, which gave her the number one seed position in the tournament; nothing more logical. However, this is not always a guarantee of results as the current Olympic qualification period can redistribute the cards. In Abu Dhabi, Scutto held her position perfectly though and she qualified for the final without trembling.

In the second part of the draw, the French clan expected a lot from Blandine Pont, author of a formidable hat-trick at the start of the season, with consecutive victories in Paris, Tel Aviv and Antalya. Since then, things have become a little complicated for the French judoka, who finished just off the podium at the Doha Worlds and did not place at the World Judo Masters Hungary 2023.

Rebooted, Pont was back in Abu Dhabi, determined to get back to her best level. The first rounds seemed to confirm her good form but in the semi-final she finally lost, after a close contest concluded with penalties, against Sila Ersin (TUR). There was work still needing to be done for Pont.

The final was announced to be tricky for the world number one, against world number 49, as the Turkish judoka showed beautiful judo from the beginning of the morning session and could be dangerous with counter-attacks, but with a light-lightning fast seoi-nage, Scutto showed unequivocally why she is today's best judoka in the category. It’s a gold medal for her and for Italy.

The first bronze medal contest was fought out between Catarina Costa (POR) and Blandine Pont (FRA). Even though Pont dominated the normal time, she was penalised twice as she could not really attack, while Costa was always on the move. As the golden score period started, it looked like we would have to wait before seeing the first powerful attack, when eventually the French judoka launched a driven o-soto-gari from far away, combined with a change of direction to employ a seoi-otoshi for waza-ari. The bronze is for Blandine Pont, who is back on the podium.

Italy had a second chance at a medal thanks to Francesca Milani (ITA), opposing Leyla Aliyeva (AZE). From the first hajime on, Aliyeva seemed to be in control, physically and tactically, pushing Milani to be penalised twice. This was the moment, Leyla Aliyeva literally disappeared under her opponent to produce a terrific left-handed seoi-otoshi that left no chance to Milani. What an ippon to send the bronze medal to Azerbaijan.

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