Bronze for Matthias Casse at the Tokyo Olympics
Narrowly loosing against the future Olympic champion in the semi-final, the Belgian judoka consoled himself by winning the bronze medal in the under 81kg category. He therefore wins Belgium's 150th medal in Olympic history.
Matthias Casse had every reason to aspire to the top step of the podium, as his performances in recent months had been so convincing. He arrived in Tokyo newly crowned with his world championship title, after a hard fight on the tatamis of Budapest. A title that no Belgian male judoka had ever won in this sport, although illustrious champions have come before him: Robert Van de Walle (1979 and 1981), Johan Laats (1991), Cédric Taymans (2001) and Toma Nikiforov (2017) had all failed to reach the final.
In the quarter-finals, it was only through greater physical resistance, by pushing his opponent to concede more penalties, that he qualified, again in the Golden Score, against the Russian judoka Khubetsov. And in the semi-finals, it was after the long suspense of a very equally-matched fight that the Belgian would eventually be caught out by local star, the Japanese Takanori Nagase, and this again in the Golden Score. The Japanese judoka would later go on to win the gold medal.
Nevertheless, Matthias Casse went on to find the necessary mental resources to win on Ippon against the Georgian Tato Grigalashvili. The same individual he had beaten in the final of the recent world championships.