There was a mix of power, finesse and plenty of explosive judo on the opening day of the 2019 Ekaterinburg Grand Slam.
Our Woman of the Day was Beijing 2008 Olympic bronze medallist and Rio 2016 Olympic champion Gili Cohen of Israel.
A textbook ko uchi gari saw the Israeli athlete defeat Spain’s Ana Perez Box in the -52kg final to take her first Grand Slam title since 2016, building on the momentum she gained at home in Tel Aviv earlier this year.
"I knew it was it going to be a tough fight, she’s a good opponent, and I’ve fought her before, so I knew how it feels to win and I wanted to keep the momentum going. It went according to plan I guess, she started strong but I kept my cool and pushed forwards with what I wanted and it worked out eventually so I’m very happy," Gili Cohen said in an interview.
Rome European Open gold medallist Kilian Le Blouch of France took on Isa Isaev, in front of the Russian crowd, eventually catching the home favourite with a strong ouchi gari, winning the -66kg gold and taking his first ever Grand Slam title. The Frenchman was thrilled and is our Man of the Day.
"Yes it’s difficult to fight with Russian. A Russian boy in Russia. Because all the public is shouting ‘Go Go Russia’ and so for me, I need more concentration," Kilian Le Blouch said in an interview.
Canada’s Christa Deguchi came here to show she intends to dominate the -57kg category. On her way to the final, the Paris Grand Slam winner defeated Multiple World Medalist Telma Monteiro of Portugal, throwing with ouchi gari first, and then finishing it with a fantastic strangle. Capitalising on her opponent’s weak attack Deguchi progressed to the final.
There she took on groundwork specialist Lien Cheng-Ling of Chinese Taipei, and beat her at her own game.
The men's -60kg category was won by former Junior World Championships bronze medallist Unubold Lkhagvajamts of Mongolia, who chalked up his first ever Grand Slam win as the young Mongolian beat Osaka Grand Slam bronze medallist Yuma Oshima of Japan in the final.
Dolgova cheers home crowd
The Russian crowd had something to celebrate in the form of Irina Dolgova. The young Russian looked dominant against her Japanese opponent Tamami Yamazaki, throwing her twice for waza-ari, first with ashi-waza. And then using her power and strength to drive her opponent over, securing an -48kg bronze medal for Russia, and her first IJF Judo World Medal this year.
Staying in the same weight category, the -48kg gold medal was won by Olympic Champion Paula Pareto of Argentina, who defeated Spain’s Julia Figueroa in golden score in the final.
Needless to say, the Argentinian was elated to win her second Grand Slam title.
Move of the Day
Our Move of the Day was by Daria Mezhetskaia of Russia. The Russian athlete is infamous for her strength and explosion, and she didn’t waste any time, throwing her Kazak opponent 6 seconds into the contest.
An absolutely enormous sode tsuri komi goshi by Mezhetskaia, lifting her Kazak opponent up into the air, before she then perfectly placed her down onto her back in what is one of judo’s most spectacular techniques.
Overall, it was another spectacular day of judo in Ekaterinburg, with Israel topping the medals standings at the end of Day 1 as five different countries won gold medals.