Passion and power on sensational Day 2 of Tel Aviv judo Grand Prix

Passion and power on sensational Day 2 of Tel Aviv judo Grand Prix
By Philip Pangalos
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There was passion, power and magnificent judo on Day 2 of the Tel Aviv Grand Prix as Israel leads the medals table despite a push by Italian judokas


Passion and power dominated proceedings on Day 2 of the Tel Aviv Grand Prix, with the Shlomo arena again packed full for another fantastic day of thrilling judo.

Maria Centracchio of Italy was our Woman of the Day. She took on home favourite Inbal Shemesh for gold in the -63kg category. 

Woman of the Day: Maria Centracchio of Italy won the -63kg gold medal after defeating home favourite Inbal Shemesh following a long tough contest

After a long and tough contest Tashkent Grand Prix silver medallist Centracchio executed a brilliant sumi-gaeshi to earn Italy's first spot on top of the podium in Tel Aviv. 

Proud moment: Italy's Maria Centracchio receives her gold medal from IJF President Mr Marius Vizer

A proud Centracchio was awarded her gold medal by IJF President Mr Marius Vizer.

"Today was a special day. I came here to win because two weeks ago I lost my uncle and I can't stay with my family because I was preparing this competition. So today I came with the intention to remember this moment like this. So it was like a special moment for me," said Maria Centracchio in an interview.

Powerful performance from Israel's Sagi Muki

Our Man of the Day was home favourite Sagi Muki. He squared up against Ivaylo Ivanov of Bulgaria in the -81kg final and made it look easy. Stepping all the way across his opponent, Muki performed an enormous sode tsuri komi goshi, a powerful attack of just the sleeve grips. An elated crowd were brought to their feet, chanting his name. Sagi Muki - a hero for the Israeli fans.

It was an absolutely incredible performance from Muki all day, and to do it with all the pressure of an expectant public was an impressive feat. He was clearly delighted after picking multiple World Tour gold medallist Ivanov up off the ground and front flipping to get the Ippon.

Muki was awarded his gold medal by Sylvan Adams, a sport philanthropist in Israel.

"It's so emotional to win in Israel, this competition. You can see what happened after. I'm so happy that I bring my judo here. The expectations from the crowd, pfff, to know that my family is in the crowd and all the Israeli pressure, it was not easy but I'm happy that I deal with it and that I took the crowd with me and make my judo to the best performance," said Sagi Muki in an interview.

Sweden's Anna Bernholm wins Grand Prix gold, surprise win for Belarus' Vadzim Shoka

In the -70kg category, Sweden’s Anna Bernholm was victorious, as she countered Alice Bellandi, denying Italy a second gold medal. Osaka Grand Slam silver medallist Bernholm was absolutely thrilled to take her second Grand Prix gold, and Sweden’s first one of the year.

Going for gold: Sweden’s Anna Bernholm won the -70kg gold medal after defeating Italy's Alice Bellandi

The surprise element of the day came from Belarus' Vadzim Shoka, who took his first ever IJF World Judo Tour gold in the -73kg division. 

Surprise victory: Belarus' Vadzim Shoka took his first ever IJF World Judo Tour gold after defeating Italy's Giovanni Esposito in the -73kg final

A strong counter to Italy’s Giovanni Esposito saw Shoka clinch victory in the final seconds of the contest after he wrapped his opponent's arm and fully committed, getting the all important score and the gold medal.

Sami Chouchi earns Move of the Day again

Sami Chouchi of Belgium is no stranger to taking Move of the Day, earning it late last year at the Cancun Grand Prix. Today it was a powerful osoto, bringing the Israeli crowd to their feet in appreciation.

Flying finish: Sami Chouchi of Belgium once again produced our Move of the Day

All in all it was another thrilling day of judo in Tel Aviv, with Israeli and international fans eagerly awaiting the third and final day of the Grand Prix tournament.

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