Purpose: We determined whether cadet and junior Judo World Championship participation and medal achievement would predict senior performance at World Championship (WC) and Olympic Games (OG). Methods: We analyzed retrospectively a total of 7780 athletes who competed at the OG and WC in the cadet, junior, and senior between 2009 and 2021. Results: There was an increase in the probability of winning a medal in the senior category (WC and OG, and only WC) ranged from 4.3 to 4.5 for medal-winning cadets compared to non-medalists and this probability remained around 3.3–3.8 for medalists in the male and 5.3–5.4 for the female medalists in cadet WC. Moreover, the chance of winning a medal in the senior category (WC and OG) was 8.1–8.5 times greater for medalists when compared to non-medalists in the junior WC. In turn, the probability of winning a medal in the senior (WC) was 1.5–1.7 times greater for athletes who did not compete in the junior WC. In the OG, the probability of winning a medal was 3.5 greater times for medalists when compared to non-medalists at cadet and junior WC. Conclusion: Thus, being a cadet or junior WC medalist increases the probability of winning a senior WC or an Olympic medal.
KEYWORDS: athlete development; combat sports; grappling; sport specialization
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Check out our previous article about specialization in Japanese Olympic judo athletes, written by J.C.Yamamoto, and learn more about this topic.