Day 1 of the 2019 Marrakech Grand Prix fell on the occasion of International Women’s Day. And on the tatami, Uzbekistan set the pace, topping the medals table at the end of a thrilling first day of the international judo tournament in Morocco with two golds, ahead of Spain, France and Chinese Tapei, with one gold each.
Showing what women's judo is all about
And France’s Amandine Buchard Nordmeyer showed what women’s judo is all about. The World Number 1 demonstrated she should not be taken lightly, demolishing her way through the competition.
In the final she took on her great friend and rival Ana Perez Box of Spain. A brilliant kata guruma scored her an emphatic ippon, and crowned her -52kg Champion and our Woman of the Day.
"Yeah, because she’s a really really good friend! When I could not fight Olympic Games in Rio, I was in Spain with her, we trained a lot. We have a really good and strong and friendship. Before I came here I was in Spain and we talked together that we want to fight together in the final. And in the end we were both in the final, there was so much emotion because she’s really a good good friend, it’s like my family. I have a big family in Spain, I was really happy in the end, we were both happy that we share this final together. It was only a pleasure, and we both got a medal so it’s good. And we both got qualification points for the Olympic Games. So we will see next year and the next competition, but it’s OK," said Amandine Buchard Nordmeyer in an interview.
Powerhouse performances from Uzbekistani judokas
Our Man of the Day was six-time Grand Slam medallist Sharafuddin Lutfillaev. The Uzbekistani powerhouse showed off his enormous hip throws as he launched Ukrainian youngster Artem Lesiuk in the -60kg final.
Elsewhere, two-time Grand Slam winner Julia Figueroa of Spain was victorious in the -48kg category.
Figueroa overcome former European Championships bronze medallist Monica Ungureanu of Romania, using the enormous height difference to throw her opponent in the final.
Figueroa was awarded her gold medal by Mr Marius Vizer, President of the International Judo Federation.
The -66kg category saw another Uzbekistan gold as Tashkent Grand Prix silver medallist Sardor Nurrilaev defeated African Champion Mohamed Abdelmawgoud and ensured a golden double for the Uzbekistan men’s team on day one of the tournament.
He was awarded his medal by Mr Naser Al Tamemi, General Treasurer of the International Judo Federation.
The -57kg category was won by Lien Chen-Ling of Chinese Taipei who defeated Anna Borowska of Poland in the final.
Move of the Day
Our Move of the Day was from Israeli star in the making Gefen Primo during the women's -52kg bronze contest.
A phenomenal osoto gari from Primo against Nathalie Rouviere of Germany was a perfect way to round off International Women’s Day, and Day 1 of a thrilling Marrakech Grand Prix.