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Clash of the titans on thrilling last day of The Hague Judo Grand Prix

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Clash of the titans on thrilling last day of The Hague Judo Grand Prix

Clash of the titans on thrilling last day of The Hague Judo Grand Prix
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It was a clash of the titans on an exciting third and final day of The Hague Judo Grand Prix 2018, with the home audience thrilled by a string of spectacular contests in the higher weight divisions.

Our Man of the Day was former World Number 1 Aleksandar Kukolj of Serbia. Kukolj had a stellar day, producing some spectacular judo to reach the -90kg final. A massive uchi mata, and a kosoto gake attack saw off Alexander Roslyakov of Russia.

Then a perfectly timed foot sweep ended Frazer Chamberlain's run, and an uchi mata got the better of Belgium’s Joachim Bottieau. In the final Kukolj would meet current World Champion Nikoloz Sherazadishvili, who had been on fire all day.

A dazzling display of ippon judo had seen Sherazadishvili slice through the category, living up to the mantle of World Champion. An uki goshi that flattened Russian Said Emi Zhambekov and his trademark uchi mata against Aatu Laamanen of Finland were the highlights of his preliminary round fights.

On fire: Nikoloz Sherazadishvili of Spain was on fire all day, with a dazzling display of Ippon judo helping him slice through the preliminaries, though the current World Champion would have to settle for silver in the final after losing to a sizzling Aleksandar Kukolj of Serbia

So it was world number one against world number two in the final that resembled a real clash of the titans.

Clash of the titans: As the world number one and two met in the -90kg final, it would be Aleksandar Kukolj of Serbia who would prevail to take gold after defeating current World Champion Nikiloz Sherazadishvili of Spain

And it was decided by a moment of brilliance from the Serbian. Kukolj expertly wheeled the World Champion over his outstretched leg to score and claim top spot in The Hague.

Top spot in The Hague: World number two Aleksandar Kukolj of Serbia is presented with his -90kg gold medal by Mrs Hanneke Van Der Marel, Director of Sports, City of The Hague, after defeating current World Champion Nikoloz Sherazadishvili of Spain in the final

Sherazadishvili was presented his gold medal by Mrs Hanneke Van Der Marel, Director of Sports, City of The Hague.

Brilliant performance: World number two Aleksandar Kukolj of Serbia was overjoyed after defeating current World Champion Nikoloz Sherazadishvili of Spain to win the -90kg gold medal

"We’ve fought a few times, we always have great fights. Our fights are never boring, so I expected one now. We are open fighters, left on right, and I came out on top this time, and I couldn’t be more happy," Aleksandar Kukolj said in an interview.

First World Judo Tour gold for Russia's Shmeleva

Our Woman of the Day was Antonina Shmeleva of Russia. Having shown some dynamic judo in her preliminaries, she produced some powerful ground work to roll and pin France’s Sama Hawa Camara in the final of the -78Kg category.

Powerful groundwork: Antonina Shmeleva of Russia took the gold medal after defeating France’s Sama Hawa Camara in the -78kg final

It was the Russian’s first ever world judo tour gold medal and a moment she has waited a long time for.

Powerful performance: Antonina Shmeleva of Russia won her first ever World Judo Tour gold medal after defeating France’s Sama Hawa Camara in the final of the -78Kg category

"I am very happy. I have waited a long time for this moment, and I am overjoyed it has finally come," Antonina Shmeleva said in an interview

Gold run continues for Israel's Paltchik

Peter Paltchik of Israel was victorious in the -100 kg category. In the final, he caught Mikita Sviryd of Belarus with a drop seoi nage in golden score to take his second World Judo Tour gold medal in a row.

On a roll: Peter Paltchik of Israel won the -100 kg gold medal after defeating Mikita Sviryd of Belarus in the final

Cameroon wins first ever IJF World Tour medal

Hortence Vanessa Mballa Atangana took a first ever medal on the IJF World Tour for Cameroon with silver in the +78kg category.

Tactical final: Hortence Vanessa Mballa Atangana of Cameroon battles in vain with Maryna Slutskaya of Belarus in the +78kg final

But it was Maryna Slutskaya of Belarus who edged a tactical final for the heavyweight title after the African contender was penalised three times and was disqualified for going out of the area.

First time on the podium for Cameroon: Hortence Vanessa Mballa Atangana took a first ever medal on the IJF world tour for Cameroon with silver in the +78kg category after Maryna Slutskaya of Belarus edged the gold in a tactical heavyweight final

Elsewhere,former World Championships bronze medallist Yakiv Khammo of the Ukraine ruled the men’s heavyweight category as he overcame Romania’s Vladut Simionescu with a fantastic ouchi gari to take the +100kg gold.

Going for gold: Yakiv Khammo of the Ukraine disposes of Roy Meyer of the Netherlands in the men’s heavyweight quarter finals as he battled his way through the preliminaries, eventually taking the gold medal after overcoming Romania’s Vladut Simionescu in the +100kg final

Diverse number of nations win medals

This year's tournament had a diverse number of nations winning medals, with an amazing 27 countries medalling in the Hague. Serbia, Israel and Belarus added their names to the list of winners on the final day of competition in the Netherlands as Russia and Ukraine were the only countries to win more than one title in The Hague. The second edition of The Hague Grand Prix saw the 14 gold medals go to 12 different countries as judo showed the world that it is without question the most competitive sport in the world.

Move of the Day

Our Move of the Day came from an all Dutch -78kg bronze medal contest where Ilona Lucassen threw former world champion Marhinde Verkerk - dropping between the legs for a whipping seoi nage - to take the victory.

All Dutch affair: Ilona Lucassen of The Netherlands took on compatriot Marhinde Verkerk in the -78kg medal bronze contest

Judo heads home for Osaka Grand Slam 2018

The IJF World Judo Tour moves on to Japan, the sport’s homeland, for the penultimate event of the season as the Osaka Grand Slam will host the best of the best judoka from 23-25 November. Osaka will feature an all-star field with 454 judoka from 75 counties including Olympic and world champions from the host nation and from abroad as every participant aims to win Japan’s blockbuster competition.