Tashkent 2022: The -63kg field is wide open

The -63kg division used to be dominated by three players: Yarden Gerbi (ISR), Tina Trstenjak (SLO) and Clarisse Agbegnenou (FRA), who made that category one of the most exciting to watch.

Then Gerbi retired and it was down to just Trstenjak and Agbegnenou. But both of them are not competing in Tashkent, which leaves the field wide open, with no clearly dominant player expected to sweep the category.

Current top players in this category include Lucy Renshall (GBR) and Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard (CAN) but if we had to place a bet, we’d go with Megumi Horikawa (JPN).

You could call Horikawa someone who had peaked early but that wouldn’t be very accurate. You could also call her a late bloomer but that wouldn’t be very accurate either.

Under the name Megumi Tsugane, she won the -63kg gold at the 2012 Tokyo Grand Slam at the age of 17. This was no small feat as that competition featured Brazil’s Rafaela Silva (BRA), who was then toying with the -63kg division, as well as Agbegnenou and Gerbi.

Then, inexplicably, she failed to win another IJF World Tour gold medal for the next 10 years. Horikawa finally broke through again this year at the Tel Aviv Grand Slam where she won gold. She followed that up with another gold medal at the Hungary Grand Slam, as if to prove the Tel Aviv gold was no fluke.

Horikawa is clearly on a roll and the momentum will stand her in good stead in Tashkent. We think she is the top prospect there.