Doha, Qatar is one of the most exciting dates on the Judo tour. At the ABHA Arena, travelling Judo fans and local enthusiasts alike flooded to witness a final electric day of Judo - the Mixed Team World Championships.
All week the action has been non-stop, with incredible displays of local culture as well as true Judo values.
The IJF also supported a Refugee Team for the event.
Every Mixed Team World Championships have seen Judo giants Japan in the final, and since 2018 they have met the powerhouse nation of France every time. With a 4-0 record coming into Doha, the historic rivalry continued.
Japan came to retain the top spot and, despite strong opponents, still made their way into the gold medal match.
But France were determined. Fielding a brilliant team, they worked hard throughout the preliminaries and secured their spot in a dream final with Japan.
In the final, France took an early lead - Gaba scored a huge ippon against Hashimoto to the crowd's delight and Margaux Pinot forced World Champion Niizoe into submission. France were now 2 points up.
Japan’s Tajima scored an absolutely huge waza-ari, keeping his team's hopes alive, and the crowd were ecstatic.
Hayme drove the score up again for France, but Saito Tatsuru then did the same for Japan.
Cysique led her fight with an early waza-ari, and it looked like the title was flying home to France, but Funakubo hadn’t read the script. She held Cysique down to draw Japan and France level at 3 - 3.
It all came down to the luck of the draw. Margaux Pinot versus Niiozoe Saki for the World Mixed Teams title. Deep into Golden Score, a tactical victory saw Team Japan clench the gold.
President of the Olympic Committee of Qatar, H.E. Sheikh Joaan Al Thani, awarded the gold trophy.
IJF President Marius Vizer awarded the Gold Medals.
"When we were drawing the categories, I somehow knew it would be -70KG, so I was ready," said Niizoe.
"That was my joke. I’m just a child at heart," said Saito.
So much friendship, honour, and respect on display. The mixed team event would not work without the values of Judo.
The World Judo Championships 2023 has come to a thrilling close in Doha, Qatar.