In day 1 of the Tunis Grand prix, the first event in 2018 for the IJF World Judo tour, the woman of the day was European Champion Daria Bilodid.
The 17 year old never once looked threatened by her older opponents and she took her second Grand Prix gold. She defeated Pop of Romania in the under 48kg final using SanGaku Gatame, a technique she often uses to clinical effect. She was awarded her gold medal by Mrs Majdouline Cherni, Minister of Sport and Youth of Tunisia.
In the under 60kg category, Walide Khyar of France was the Man of the day as he took his first Grand Prix gold medal. After showing much promise in 2016 when he became European champion, Khyar needed time to blossom on the world judo tour. But in Tunis he was a real crowd pleaser, executing a spectacular Ura nage on Slovenia’s Trbovc, scoring Ippon and finally topping a major podium once again.
Jessica Pereira of Brazil took on Distria Krasniqi of Kosovo in the final of the under 52kg category. It was the Panamerican champion Pereira who out-gunned the in form Kosovan after a slick Kouchi Makikomi Ippon. She was awarded the gold medal by International Judo Federation President Mr Marius Vizer.
There was another new face sporting Gold at under 66 kilograms after Uzbekistan’s Shakhram Akhadov came through an epic encounter with Japan’s Fujisaka Taroh.
Deep into Golden Score, Akhadov scored a pressure point Waza ari to secure the gold medal. It once again showed just how strong Uzbekistan are in the male lightweights.
At under 57 kilograms Kosovo’s Nora Gjakova was continuing the form which saw her take gold at the Hague Grand prix. She defeated Panama’s Miryam Roper at the semi final stage in emphatic fashion.
In the final she faced Korea’s Kwon Yu Jeong and came through with less flare, countering her opponent’s attack to score a waza ari. But that was enough to give her a third consecutive Grand Prix win.
Roper came back in the bronze medal contest to give us our move of the day, defeating Spaniard Jaione Equisoain within 20 seconds with her trademark surprise Kosoto gake. A fitting way to sooth her semi final defeat and a well deserved bronze medal for roper.