Edition No. 32. Autumn, 2002. Today is
World Junior Championships 2002 South Korea: September 12-15, 2002 
Jeju, The Junior Worlds is always an intriguing event. It is a place where you can catch a glimpse of future stars of the sport before they become the finished article. But you have to look beyond the obvious successes. The best prospects often don't win. A look back through the record books of past Junior World winners sees names such as World and Olympic Champion Hua Yuan of China, three-times World Champion Noriko Anno of Japan, double World Champion Alexander Mikhailine and Cuba's Yurisleides Lupetey who won the senior World title last year, just 12 months after capturing the junior crown.

But a look back at minor medallist can be equally impressive. Hungary's Antal Kovacs won only junior Silver in 1992. That same year he took the Olympic title. Current under 73kg Olympic Champion Guiseppe Maddaloni of Italy was also beaten into Silver in 1996 by Sebastian Pereira of Brazil who's best senior result was World Bronze in 1999. Great fighters such as Canada's Nicolas Gill and Amarilis Savon of Cuba also won medals but never managed to take Gold at the junior worlds. What makes a good junior does not always translate into senior judo. But in Jeju, whatever the merits of the winners, medallists or even some nonmedallists, there was a lot of entertainment and a few genuine prospects to look forward to in coming years.

Sadly, though, there was not a lot to cheer about for Britain. While names such as Ian Freeman, Karen Roberts, Georgina Singleton, Cheryle Peel and Karina Bryant have all stepped onto the top podium in the last decade, there was little to suggest that another Brit from the class of 2002 could emulate such a feat. The tournament opened badly on the first day with Clare Lynch going out in the first round at under 48kg and Sophie Johnstone lasting just two rounds at under 52kg, a relatively new weight category for her. Things did not really pick up on day two either. Mark James scored a magnificent Ippon with a Khabarelli pick-up in the repechage against Joseph Ferguson of USA but he was well beaten in his two other contests and to be honest, he looks too small for under 100kg.

Lyndsey Barnes certainly looked ready to go, but could manage only a single victory at under 57kg and seemed almost offended at the audacity of her second round opponent for beating her. Faith Pitman also won one contest at under 63kg and did well to last more than a minute with the outstanding winner, Yoshie Ueno of Japan. Iain Feenan made a blistering start to his under 73kg campaign against Rovshen Amandurdiyev of Turkmenistan scoring Waza-ari within seconds. But thereafter he was outfought and beaten. James Austin at under 81kg, David Woodcock at under 66kg and Laura Clempner at under 70kg were all first round casualties.

It was turning into a bit of disaster for the Brits but three fighters managed to swim a little against the tide. Tom Smith scored two good victories at under 60kg before bowing out by Chui against a strong Latvian, Casans Eldarovs. He had thrown Romania's Daniel Morar for Ippon with Kochiki-taioshi and then armlocked South Africa's Warren Wesson with Juji-gatame. But the best results came from the two heaviest girls. Sian Wilson, who for some reason looks almost disinterested during contests, had three Ippon victories on her way to a Bronze medal contest against France's Rebecca Romenich. She very nearly didn't make it that far, though, when she was almost thrown for Ippon by a considerably inferior opponent in America's Nina Cutro Kelly. The American threw Wilson with a beautiful Harai-goshi but let go of the sleeve in mid-air and Wilson spun over to land on her side. That prompted women's team coach Lorreta Cusack to unload a verbal volley at Wilson that galvanised her enough to score Ippon with Juji-gatame. But even though she seemed more awake against Rominich, she lost an entertaining contest when the two clinched up for an all-or-nothing pick-up. Rominich got the lift and Wilson was slammed down for Ippon.

Lyndsey Sorrell saved British blushes by making it onto the podium with Bronze at under 78kg. Sorrell was well beaten by Brazil's Claudiren Cezar but came storming back through the repechage to win three fights and a gong. It was a sweet moment for her after narrowly losing out on a Commonwealth Games medal. Afterwards she said: "I am just relieved with that. I struggled all day and I'm glad it's over. I lost at the Commonwealth Games because I couldn't keep my head together." Well she held it all together this time and hopefully the experience should help settle those nerves in the future.

Japan typically dominated the proceedings with six Gold medals. Ueno was their most impressive winner and also won both the awards for Best Judoka and the Ippon Trophy for the most Ippon victories in the fastest time. Toshihiro Takesawa added the men's Best Judoka award for Japan although there were two Brazilians who pushed him close. Leandro Guilheiro at under 73kg and Leonardo Eduardo at under 81kg won the two most impressive categories of the whole tournament. Guilheiro beat Slovenia's lively Saso Jereb in an entertaining final by a golden score. Both of those and Tomas Muzik of Czech look like great talents.

And there was even more on show at under 81kg where Eduardo scored a dramatic last second Ippon against Ukraine's Roman Gontyuk having trailed by Waza-ari, Yuko and Koka at one point. Eduardo has some lovely classical techniques and Gontyuk is a powerhouse. Look out for both of these and also for Bronze medallists Maxim Rakov of Kazakhstan and Spain's Jorge Benavente. Tunisia's two female contestants were making the headlines too. Yousra Zribi won Africa's first ever World level medal in women's judo with a Bronze at under 70kg and the next day Ahlem Azzabi followed that up with Gold at over 78kg. Zribi's pick-ups are particularly impressive and she's not short of confidence either. Afterwards she said she was aiming for a medal at next year's senior Worlds.

A couple of other good prospects to look out for are Iran's heavyweight fighter Mohammed Riza Roudaki. He was beaten in the final by South Korea's Young-Hwan Choi with a sublime Osoto-gaeshi; but Roudaki is enormous. With a little refinement he will cause some problems in the heavyweight division. Brazil's tall and elegant under 48kg fighter Taciana Lima will be a handful for her division despite winning only Bronze. Her conqueror, Gold medallist Carmen Bogdan of Romania, caught her with a counter pick-up in the semi-final and is another in the long list of talented Romanian lightweights. She too has a good future ahead of her. And lastly look out for Iliadis Dionisios of Greece at under 100kg. He was unfortunate to lose against the eventual winner Takamasa Anai who the Japanese rate very highly. Dionisios may have lost again in the repechage but if you are looking for a home medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, he might just be the best bet.

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Junior World Championship 2002









EDUARDO, Lenardo (BRA)


TAKESAWA, Toshihiro (JPN)


ANAI, Takamsa (JPN)


CHOI, Young Hwan (KOR)



BOGDAN, Carmen (ROM)


SATO, Aiko (JPN)


SZABO, Brigitta (HUN)


UENO, Yoshie (JPN)


OKA, Asuka (JPN)





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