Judo has come to Antalya, Turkey and the penultimate Grand Slam before Olympic qualification is decided.
Italy’s Francesca Milani did her chances of making it to Tokyo no harm, defeating the current Olympic Champion Paula Pareto on her way to an emotional first Grand Slam gold in the -48kg competition.
Marius Vizer, President of the International Judo Federation, awarded the medals.
Abe claims ninth Grand slam gold
Japan’s Abe Hifumi is our man of the day. This was the -66kg double World Champion’s first outing on the tour since qualifying for the Olympics late last year and he flew through the preliminaries.
That set up a final showdown with Spain’s Alberto Gaitero Martin. Abe won it with a golden score wazari to claim his ninth Grand Slam gold.
Vladimir Barta, the Head Sport Director of the International Judo Federation, awarded the medals.
“It was so great to be back in competition after such a long time,” Abe said afterwards. “It was so fun and it was nice to be back again.”
Deguchi returns to winning ways
Canada’s -57kg world champion Christa Deguchi returned to her winning ways and she is our woman of the day. After an impressive run through the preliminaries, she defeated her compatriot Jessica Klimkait in the final to secure her fifth Grand Slam gold.
Mohammed Meridja, the IJF Education & Coaching Director, made the presentation.
“Today I think I did fine”, said Deguchi after her victory. “It wasn’t 100% but I think I did fine and I’m happy to come back on the podium - to have a gold medal again.”
Belgium’s Jorre Verstraeten took his first-ever Grand Slam gold in the -60kg category, outfoxing France’s Walide Khyar with a swift change of direction for a spectacular Ippon.
Max-Hervé George, the Chief Executive of Ultima Capital, presented the medals.
And it was also a first-ever grand slam gold for Uzbekistan’s Diyora Keldiyorova in the -52kg category, a beautiful sode tsurikomi goshi catching out Spain’s Estrella Lopez Sheriff in the first exchange of the contest final.
Hamza Yerlikaya, Turkey’s Deputy Minister of Youth and Sport, presented her with her gold.
Now upgraded to a Grand Slam, the annual Antalya tournament is an incredible chance for young Turkish athletes to make a mark on the World scene - and it was Senturk Gulkader who won the hosts their first medal: bronze in the -48kg contest.