While competitors in many sports will have time to savour their results at the Commonwealth Games, practitioners of judo got only a little time to celebrate. After the medal haul at the Commonwealth Games, the Indians would be given a stern reality check in the continental championships that followed the Birmingham competition.
India finished its campaign in the judo competitions at the 2022 Commonwealth Games with two silver and a bronze medal. Although this was one bronze less than what it had won at the 2014 Games, India was also fielding a far smaller contingent. In contrast to Glasgow where 14 Indians had taken part in every weight division, only six Indians had participated at the Birmingham Games. As such half of the team that travelled to England would come back with a medal.
While Sushila Likmabam won her second silver, in the women’s 48kg category, at the Commonwealth Games, Vijay Kumar (bronze in the men’s 60kg division) and Tulika Maan (silver in the women’s 78kg+ category) were the other two winners.
The standard of competition at the Commonwealth Games isn’t uniformly low – Canada’s Christa Deguchi is a former world champion in the women’s 57kg category while Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard won an Olympic medal in the women’s 63kg division. However, the only Indian to compete against these high level judokas was Suchika Tariyal who lost by ippon to Deguchi.
While Indians didn’t return empty handed from Birmingham, their performance there has to be judged in context of their performance at the Asian Championships at Nur Sultan in Kazakhstan which were held right after the Commonwealth Games.
Competing against the best in Asia with multiple world medallists in the fray, India didn’t win a single medal. Furthermore, just one Indian representative — Sunibala Devi — in the women’s 63kg division would return with a victory against her name, beating Lebanon’s Aqulina Chayeb in her opening contest.
While Likmabam didn’t take part in the competition, Vijay Kumar Yadav and Maan both lost early enough to not even be pulled into repechage. Maan’s performance would have been particularly disappointing since she had given a tough fight to Sarah Addlington in the gold medal bout at Birmingham.
Addlington, a former fifth place finisher at the world championships, was less than a minute from defeat before coming back to beat Maan. In Nur Sultan though, Maan was beaten by ippon just 41 seconds into the opening round of her clash against China’s Su Xin.