If respect, effort, talent and discipline are the pillars of the sport, the third and final day of the World Judo Masters in Mexico will be remembered for years to…
If respect, effort, talent and discipline are the pillars of the sport, the third and final day of the World Judo Masters in Mexico will be remembered for years to come.
The pre-tournament favourites produced some stunning judo against very tough opponents.
In doing so they sounded the warning bells to all their rivals ahead of the Rio Games.
Harrison beats arch rival Aguiar
In the -78 kg final World number one and Olympic champion Kayla Harrison of the US and fourth ranked Brazilian Mayra Aguiar met for the 17th time in their careers.
After scoring a yuko towards the halfway point, Harrison eventually struck gold with an ippon 54 seconds from the end to defend her title.
Harrison now leads the pair’s head-to-head record 9-8 and many expect the two to meet in this summer’s Olympic final.
Britain’s Natalie Powell won bronze and in doing so qualified for Rio 2016 at the expense of compatriot and 2012 silver medallist Gemma Gibbons.
Warming up nicely for Rio
Idalys Ortiz warmed up nicely as she prepares to defend her Olympic title in Rio in August.
The Cuban judoka defeated world number three MA Sisi of China in the final of the +78 kilo class.
After both were penalised for passivity following a series of low-key exchanges Ortiz took control of the fight with a waza-ari and then held down her purple-haired opponent for 15 seconds to seal the gold medal.
Golden score needed for gold
World bronze medallist Mashu Baker celebrated gold in the -90kg division.
In his first appearance at the invite-only event the Japanese judoka produced an heroic display which culminated with a pulsating golden score victory over Tyumen Grand Slam bronze medallist Khusen Khalmurzaev from Russia.
Baker scored a yuko after one minute and 32 seconds of added time to claim the win.
Gasimov in tip-top form
Azerbaijan’s Elmar Gasimov highlighted his world number one status with victory in the final of the -100 kilo category.
Gasimov guaranteed top seed status for Rio 2016 by defeating former World Judo Masters bronze medallist Cyrille Maret.
Gasimov secured gold courtesy of ippon after almost three minutes of action.
Big man Natea stuns the field
The last final of the day saw the heavyweights take to the tatami and the fight was short and sweet.
European bronze medallist Daniel Natea from Romania locked down the gold in just eight seconds.
Natea defeated European Championships silver medallist Or Sasson from Israel.
He was unstoppable in Guadalajara and won all four of his fights courtesy of an ippon.
Natea who had never before beaten Sasson took his opponent down with a waza-ari and then sealed gold with an immobilization for the required 15 seconds.
The Romanian big man’s form might well just put him on a mouthwatering Rio 2016 collision course with Olympic and eight-time world champion Teddy Riner of France.
Surprise of the day
Following such a showing in Mexico, Natea is the headline act for our surprise of the day.
Before reaching, and winning, the final he caused a major upset by eliminating top seed and world number two Hisayoshi Harasawa in the quarter-finals. (See clip above)
Move of the day
The move of the day comes from the impressive Khalmurzaev, who produced a stunning ippon to best Frenchman Axel Clerget in the semis. (see clip above)