The mantle of world judo could be slipping away from Japan, the sport's founding country, and transferring to France - at least on the evidence of the first day of the World Championships in Paris yesterday. Of the four finals, two saw confrontations between the two countries, and on both occasions, France walked away with gold medals, as David Douillet and Christine Cicot snatched the laurels for the heavyweight categories.
Douillet, at 28, now joins Japan's Yasuhiro Yamashita as the only heavyweight to win three consecutive world titles.
Britain made an undistinguished start. Michelle Rogers, the heavyeight, lost twice and won once, against Germany's Sandra Koppen. The light heavyweight, Keith Davis, also won one and lost two. Both, and Chloe Cowen, also a light-heavyweight, were outclassed.