A dynamic first day at The Hague Judo Grand Prix 2018 thrilled the crowd as they witnessed some spectacular judo and universality, with five different nations collecting gold medals as the latest IJF tournament kicked off in The Netherlands.
Man of the Day
Our Man of the Day was Vazha Margvelashvili of Georgia. A dynamic display of ippon judo saw him impressively cruise through to the -66Kg final, with a stunning foot sweep against Moldovan Denis Vieru the highlight of the contest.
Awaiting Margvelashvili in the final was Israel’s world number 5 Baruch Shmailov, a first meeting for the closely ranked fighters.
After a tight encounter, it was Margvelashvili, who skilfully countered to prevail, securing his third World Judo Tour gold medal of 2018.
"It was my first fight against Shmailov; he is very strong and I am very happy to have managed to beat him. Next I really want to win the Osaka Grand Slam, because it is my dream. And because it is very hard to win, because when you fight in Japan, you know there will be four samurais waiting to defeat you," said Vazha Margvelashvili in an interview.
Woman of the Day
Terumi Otsuji of Japan was our Woman of the Day. The -57kg athlete was world ranked 163 before the day's competition but showed that ranking is only a number and that anything is possible, topping the podium on her first ever World Judo Tour outing.
In the final, she faced off against Lu Tongjuan of China. A strong koshi guruma attack led immediately into a hold down from which Lu could not escape.
A combination of excellent control of her opponent's head and great tenacity gave Otsuji the victory and the top step of the podium. After a dominant display of positive judo throughout the day, Otsuji was visibly emotional when collecting her gold medal.
"My hardest fight was against Gneto of France, it was a long fight that went into golden score, we fought for a long time, so I needed all my stamina," said Terumi Otsuji in an interview.
Dashdavaa delivers on Day 1
Mongolian judo fans were thrilled to see Tokyo Grand Slam silver medallist and 21 time IJF World Tour Medallist Amartuvshin Dashdavaa win his sixth Grand Prix title in the first men’s final in The Hague as he added another gold medal to his collection.
Dashdavaa defeated 2016 Budapest Grand Prix winner Dai Aoki of Japan in the -60kg gold medal contest after five minutes of golden score. Aoki, who fought for a medal at the 2015 Tokyo Grand Slam, entangled his leg and held it there to block the Mongolian, picking up his third shido to receive hansoku-make.
Gold for Belgium’s Van Snick and Ukraine’s Cherniak
A sublime exhibition of superior newaza skills from Belgium’s Charline Van Snick saw her take the -52Kg title in the Netherlands.
This marked a 9th gold medal on the World Judo Tour for Van Snick, and, needless to say, joy for the Belgian fans.
Ukraine’s Maryna Cherniak won her second grand prix title in the -48Kg division, with a fantastic ko-soto gake against China’s Xiong Yao.
Move of the Day
Our Move of the Day was provided by Margriet Bergstra of the Netherlands. The -57Kg fighter delighted her knowledgeable home crowd with a spectacular, traditional uchi mata in her opening match.