Winning finals is a quality. Just a gut feeling says that the Japanese understand that quality really well. Zooming into the stats, just confirms that the Japanese are true masters taking the gold in a final. Obviously Japan is the most successful nation and they take a lot of medals, so they also lost a few contests. Still the distribution of gold in finals is positively balanced by the Japanese.

So far this year Japan has an excellent balance in converting finals into gold. Over all events (all ages) 69% against 31% in silver. The only country that is more efficient this season is Cuba with 72% won, thanks to the outstanding performances of Idalys Ortiz who added the Pan American Games title last weekend.

Also France seems to understand the art of winning medals with a percentage of 66%. Kilian Le Blouch contributed well this season with three victories. From the big judo nations Russia is more problematic with 35% of the finals won, that opposite of the figures of France. Robert Mshvidobadze tends to take a lot of silverware. Daria Mezhetskaia may have found the key now, first she took two silver medals this season but took precious European Games gold in Minsk.

Despite the success of Daria Bilodid, Ukraine wins only 28% of its finals, Bilodid didn’t fight a lot this season and her loss in the Tbilisi final confirms the curse, but we don’t find those figures very worrying, it can change fast. Also Great Britain with 31% finals won should become a bit better in winning finals. More dramatic is the United States this year with only 18% won. Three finals won, fourteen lost. Not big figures, but quite typical.

It makes no sense to look at countries with low numbers of medals, but it’s a fact that North Korea won all five finals this year, some at the highest level in the World Tour.

Kosovo winners

The question for each of the mentioned countries is, whether the figures are a structural problem or… a quality. Japan simply confirms with 65% of all finals won, which is the second highest behind Kosovo. Over the last ten years, Kosovo won 69% of all its finals, and 2009 was also the first year that Majlinda Kelmendi won her first Junior European and World titles. Winning and Kelmendi is a team.

Japan is ranked second with way more finals in ten years’ time and obviously that includes those between two compatriots where the balance is pulled down. Mains rivals such as Russia, Brazil and the Netherlands balance at 50%. France 54%, Georgia 55% and Korea 55% are positive, Cuba and Czech Republic even 59%. Hungary should worry with 38% finals won: Meszaros (2), Toth, Bor, Ungvari all lost the battle for their career best. Poland also not great with 40% lost all four European Championships finals but won European gold as a team in 2016.

Two South American countries should really improve their final skills with only 31% won over the last ten years: Chile and Peru. Talk to the coaches in Colombia (56%).

We need Teddy Riner in judo who is undefeated since 2010, but you get stronger from each loss. The athletes that lost most finals are many Brazilian women, because they are in the team for a long time, but at the most essential moments, they learned from their loss and won World and Olympic titles: Mayra Aguiar and Rafaela Silva.

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