It was another thrilling day for judo fans as the 2019 Hohhot Grand Prix kicked-off in China, and on Day 1 of the tournament teenage World Champion Uta Abe of Japan rose to the top of the podium as our Women of the Day as she took gold in the women’s -52kg category.
A confident display saw an unstoppable Abe dominate the field in her preliminary contests. In the semi-final she wrapped up Gefen Primo of Israel to progress to the final. There she would face Evelyne Tschopp of Switzerland.
Abe was like lightning as she struck the Swiss athlete with uchi-mata to terminate the contest and score ippon to win the gold medal and her third Grand Prix title, and extend her winning streak to 37 contests on the IJF World Judo Tour.
"As I have been injured I only had one month to prepare for this competition. But I am very satisfied with what I could do today. I really gave it my all, but there are definitely things that I can improve on. So at the World Judo Championships this Summer I hope to be at my best," Uta Abe said in an interview.
Our Man of the Day was Kim Won Jin of Korea in the -60kg category; the multiple world medalist made a swift start to his day. He sent Luka Mkheidze of France flying with an emphatic o-goshi attack on his route through to the final.
In the final he made ripples in the stadium with an uchi-mata attack that stunned his opponent Yang Yung Wei of Chinese Taipei.
"I have to be ready for any situation because competitions don’t always go according to plan. But in Korea I train enough to deal with any situation. I was able to finish the competition really well by scoring Ippons throughout the day," Kim Won Jin said in an interview.
Grand Prix gold at -48kg was meant for Jon Yu Sun for the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, whose passionate performance forced her final opponent Xiong Yao of China to the tatami, scoring waza ari and resulting in her maiden gold medal on the IJF World Tour. And it was a case of pure joy as she stood tall on top of the podium.
A tactical win for Kim Limhwan over Russia’s Aram Grigoryan in the men’s -66kg final, saw Korea take both of the gold medals in today’s men’s categories and helped them top the medals standings at the end of the first day of the competition.
To add to the delight of her team mate, Kim Jin A of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea stormed past Russia’s Daria Mezhetskaia to claim the -57kg 2019 Hohhot Grand Prix title.
Move of the Day
Our Move of the Day came from Israel’s Gefen Primo who claimed a bronze medal in the -52kg category against Andreea Chitu of Romania with an explosive lifting ko-soto.