On the final day of the 2018 Tunis Grand Prix, the man of the day was Ben Fletcher, who attained Ireland’s first ever Grand Prix gold.
A spectacular uchi mata at the semi-final stage against Algeria’s Lyes Bouyacoub was the highlight of his route to the final, where he squared off against Russia’s Ramazan Malsuigenov who would be contesting a world judo tour gold for the very first time.
After a close contest which went to golden score, Fletcher seized his moment to score waza-ari.
It meant he would top a world judo tour podium for the first time and in another first, the Irish national anthem was heard inside a judo grand prix arena.
In total 24 nations from all 5 continents medalled here, showing what a truly universal sport judo is.
Mao Izumi was our woman of the day. The Japanese judoka looked very confident throughout scoring ippon in every contest, defeating Russia’s Niurguiana Nikiforova at the semi-final stage.
In the final she met Karen Stevenson of the Netherlands who couldn’t compete with the skill of Izumi. After a waza ari from ouchi gari, she was ruthless on the ground, freeing her legs to secure a pin to take the match.
It was Japan’s only gold of the event, meaning judo’s powerhouse nation would not go home empty handed.
The home crowd were out in force, and Nihel Cheikh Rouhou did not disappoint. The over 78kg fighter took on Slovenia’s Anamari Velensek in the bronze medal contest, scoring waza-ari, adding her home country to the long list of nations who took medals here in Tunis.
A massive moment for Cheikh Rouhou as she became a national Heroine.
Maryna Slutskaya of Belarus put on a confident display against Beatriz Souza of Brazil in the over 78kg final, securing a submission to win the bout by ippon.
In the heaviest male category, the over 100 kilograms, Oleksandr Gordiienko of Ukraine defeated Javad Mahjoub from Iran by waza ari.
The under 90-kilogram medal matches were full of action but our move of the day came in the final – A lightning fast tai otoshi from Islam Bozbayev of Kazakhstan on world silver medallist Krisztian Toth of Hungary.
A fantastic way for Bozbayev to win his country’s second gold of the event.