On Day 2 of the 2019 Tbilisi Grand Prix, one team came out smelling of roses, or should we say, tulips. It was a case of double Dutch delight and Frank De Wit was the first to blossom.
The Netherlands showed their strength throughout the middle-weights on the second day of the latest thrilling IJF World Tour tournament and it was an explosive affair.
World Judo Masters bronze medallist De Wit displayed fantastic throwing skills all day, including the technique made famous by the great Georgian fighter Shota Khabareli. Perhaps harnessing the soul and atmosphere created by the Georgians. It was a case of fully engaged judo, producing some of the most exciting throws, always on a knife edge.
Taking on French powerhouse Alpha Oumar Djalo, the Dutch two-time Grand Slam winner overcame the Frenchman with a clever sacrifice technique, setting him up to become our Man of the Day. De Wit claimed his maiden Grand Prix title in golden score as he won the -81kg gold after defeating Germany's Timo Cavelius in the final.
We spoke to De Wit about his do or die mentality.
"For me it's very important, my coach he doesn't like it always, in the final today, we were starting like we wanted to be a little strategic, and in five seconds we were in the clinch, and it could go either way. But for me it's very important because it's my style of Judo, I like to play Judo like this, but sometimes I have to be more technical, that's why I think I didn't win any gold medals since 2017, maybe," Frank De Wit said in an interview.
Sanne Vermeer and Geke Van den Berg of The Netherlands are truly friends off the mat, but today there was no room for that, only respect. In the -63kg final, Vermeer emerged the victor, catching her compatriot with a lighting fast ashi guruma in the first exchange, and securing the osaekomi for ippon.
It was truly a day of the tulips and one could even argue that orange is the new gold.
"I think the Dutch team we train really hard, and yeah I think we just want to go for it and we give our best. My opponent it was the same, so it feels a little double because I want her to win as well but I want myself to win a little more. I was really nervous and I'm very happy I won," Sanne Vermeer said in an interview.
The Day 2 Dutch double-gold performance helped The Netherlands climb to second spot in the medals standings, just behind France, who retain the top spot with two golds, and ahead of hosts Georgia, Israel, Italy, Portugal and Kosovo, each with one gold a piece.
Elsewhere, Paris Grand Slam bronze medallist Barbara Timo continued her fine form for Portugal as she defeated Olympic bronze medallist Laura Vargas Koch of Germany in golden score of the -70kg final to take the top spot on the podium.
Back in the men's division, France's Guillaume Chaine had the eye of the tiger today. After knocking on the door of the under 73kg category's elite in recent months, his perseverance was repaid in Tbilisi.
Striking early with a wonderful low ouchi, he defeated Cuba's Magdiel Estrada. Chaine is surely one to watch in 2019.
Move of the Day
Alpha Oumar Djalo gave us our Move of the Day. The French fighter leads the pack as one of the most explosive athletes on the World Tour.
A colossal ura nage against Bohdan Zusko was a fine example of the Frenchman's power, picking the Ukrainian up off the ground, with both athletes taking flight, before returning down to earth for an emphatic ippon. Truly spectacular top flight judo.