16 minutes and 41 seconds of fighting in the semi-finals, 14 minutes and 58 seconds in the round of 16… Russian jadukote Madina Taimazova toiled like never before on Wednesday - until fainting a few seconds after her semi - to snatch bronze at less than 70 kg.
Blame it on formidable adversaries?
Undeniably, but also to the regulations authorizing this kind of extended duels.
This year again, they are legion at the Olympics.
By our calculations, 38% of men's fights, including Luka Mkheidze's semi-final and 3rd place match, and 27% of women have so far ended this way, in the Golden Score.
Teddy Riner, beaten in this sort of sudden death against Bashaev on Friday, can attest to this.
"In the golden score, the slightest stumbling and it's over," also supports his coach Laurent Calleja on FranceTV.
Moment of ultimate suspense, they enter the scene if no points have been scored during the four minutes of regulation time.
However, do they really sublimate the spirit of judo?
According to many observers, these interminable face-to-face meetings run counter to offensive judo and the original quest for the ippon.
"Instead of having spectacular things, nobody understands anything anymore"
Golden scores have not always existed. They date, for the Olympics, from 2008 in Beijing. At the time, they were limited to three minutes. Then, a jury decided on the most deserving winner, as was done before, even if it meant generating intense controversy, even suspicion of cheating. Since 2016, the referee no longer interferes at all in the fights. To win, you must score a waza-ari (an imperfect fall of the opponent or an immobilization of 10 to less than 20 seconds), an ippon (a perfect fall or 20 seconds of immobilization) or push the opponent to commit three faults, synonymous with elimination.
Madina Taimazova 22 years old has played 5 fights including 3 golden score fights
(15 ', 17' and 6 ')
She lost in the semi final against the Japanese after a shock of titans ended by the medical intervention, she returns for the medal match 🥉 and she wins!
👏 💪 # judo # roc pic.twitter.com/VUXdvLrmqW
- Knaissi Bayrem (@KBayrem) July 28, 2021
“We wanted to make it supposedly more televisual and more comprehensive.
But basically, instead of having spectacular things, nobody understands anything any more, deplores Frédéric Demontfaucon, bronze medalist in 2000 and now member of the arbitration commission of the French Federation.
The idea was to leave the decision to the fighters.
And not to the referee.
But at the world level, the adversaries know each other inside out.
And then, the more time passes, the more difficult it is to attack ”.
The removal of koka and yuko pointed out
Going on the attack is in fact putting oneself in danger and accepting to stealthily lose one's balance. No wonder, from there, to see repeated sterile and ultimately grueling duels. "It's not new, but if you are in good physical shape, you can survive these kind of days, but if there are gaps, you will not make it, analyzed the former at the beginning of the week. German Olympic champion Udo Quellmalz on the website of the International Judo Federation. “The referees want to leave time for positive scores so it's better to have longer fights than to end with a shido (a penalty) earlier, but I want to see more offensive judo,” he added.
Since the end of 2016, the men's fights no longer last five but four minutes, like the women. This explains the profusion of “golden scores”. According to Frédéric Demontfaucon, the disappearance of the intermediate points also encouraged the athletes not to expose themselves. Coke, abolished in 2008, as well as yuko, which disappeared in 2017, rewarded a more or less controlled fall on the side or on a buttock. Their return would, according to him, "re-energize" attack techniques.
“I'm having less and less fun watching judo. We lost the value of the ippon because of this catch-all value of the waza-ari. Before you had to fall on your back with control, technique and strength. Now, we realize that it is enough to look for the penalty to win. There is no longer this technical part as before. Someone who is able to develop a lot of physique can impose his kumikata (grabbing the kimono) and remain domineering without really attacking ”.