WK JudoWorld Champion. Number one in the world rankings in the weight category. After taking gold at the World Cup in Budapest, Matthias Kass is definitely running for the top candidate for Olympic gold in six weeks in Tokyo.
Preceded by Ingrid Bergmans. Gila Vandicavie too. But other judo legends, such as Robert Vandewal and Ola Warbrook, braced their teeth for the World Cup gold medal. With the silver medal at the 2019 World Cup, it looked as though Matthias Kaas might also be the story of ‘not only’, but the 24-year-old from Antwerp has confidence to sell. Yesterday I proved. A strong head on a strong body. self conscious. Cass: “I am glad that I got a second chance and now got the gold. I hope in this way to inspire myself to the new generations. I am very proud that I was able to make history.”
At the European Championships in April, Cass was not good enough to take European gold – he became a silver. “Physically I’m not one hundred percent yet,” Cass said at the time. Turk Albayrak, third in the world ranking, was still very powerful. He was not at the World Cup. Judo was not the only one who decided to go to the World Cup and put everything in the games. Sagi Muki (IJF 2) was also missing. Takanori Nagas (IJF 12). Cass did not care: “Today I could have beaten them all.”
In the final, Cass met a tremendous talent. Grigalashvili tattoo. He’s only 21 and European champion in 2020 – en route to that gold medal deal with Kass. In Budapest, Kass settled his account.
The Georgian immediately attacked but was unable to score. This made Grigalashvili visibly nervous, while Cass remained as cold as an icy rabbit. He patiently waited for his chance and presented herself in overtime. Grigalashvili flew on his back. Ebon. “The fact that I actually went to the World Cup final in 2019 helped me. Two years ago I was very excited and nervous, now I am calmer and my plan is well executed.”
gold for the box. Four years later, he was awarded the title of world champion – in the junior category. “Then it felt huge, now that I’ve done it with the seniors, the value suddenly becomes a lot less,” Cass smiled. “But I can now say for the second time that I’m the best in the world, and that feels so good.”
In the meantime, Antwerpper has been #1 in his weight class for over a year, in the hard-packed category up to 81kg. A stature he fully lives up to with his first world title. Cass understands better than anyone else that the pressure to perform in games is growing. But he’s used to it, he says, ‘I’ve already been counted among the favorites in this World Cup and it wouldn’t be any different in Tokyo. But I’m going to play the games like any other with the same mindset. I’m going for the gold – as always. If I don’t If that’s your goal, don’t start. I won’t get an Olympic diploma (top 8, editor). I know many Belgians are wary of expressing their ambitions, but I made it clear why I’m one of the candidates.”
What also strengthens him in these thoughts is that he’s still a few percent off his best. He has planned three more phases until the games: that should be enough to further tune the device to be in top condition by the end of July. The planning is clearly correct. I went through a rough period in January, but I’ve always believed in myself. I know what I can do and I never doubted I would be ready for the games.” He spoke like a real world champion.
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