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Thrills and spills galore as the 2022 World Judo Tour kicks off in Portugal

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By Mark Armstrong
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Olympic Champion Distria Krasniqi in action
Olympic Champion Distria Krasniqi in action   -   Copyright  IJF

The 2022 World Judo Tour kicked off in Portugal with a thrilling first day at the Grand Prix in Almada, and the local Judoka rose to the challenge!

Catarina Costa displayed beautiful footwork as always, catching out her Korean opponent to take the first Gold medal of this year, and Portugal’s first of the tournament, making her the tournament's woman of the day.

Mr Jorge Fernandes, President of the Portuguese Judo Federation, proudly awarded Costa her gold medal

"Thank you, I feel very happy today because I could make it in front of my family and friends and it’s the first competition of the year, so of course, I'm really happy to start the year well and I hope to get more Gold medals this year," said an excited Costa afterwards.

At -60kgs, Lee Harim of Korea defeated Paris Grand Slam champion Aghayev of Azerbaijan with a persistent morote seoi nage

He was awarded his medal by Mr Juan Carlos Barcos, Director for International Relations of the International Judo Federation.

At -48kg, Olympic Champion Distria Krasniqi took her first Gold since moving up to the -52kg weight category post-Tokyo. She started her year off with an incredible throw, hoping to continue her successes in the new weight category.

The President of the Portuguese Institute for Sports and Youth, Mr Vítor Pataco, awarded Distria her gold.

The tournament's man of the day was Moldova’s Denis Vieru, who proved too much for his Swiss opponent Waizenegger, scoring with two decisive Waza-ari’s to take Gold at -66kgs.

The medals were awarded by Mr Mohammed Meridja, the International Judo Federation's Education & Coaching Director.

Afterwards, Vieru said, "I am happy and proud to become the best on the podium today. In the future I will continue to surprise the public with my beautiful judo".

Back to her winning ways, Rafaela Silva took her 7th Grand Prix title at -57kgs, beating the Netherlands’ Pleuni Cornelisse with a massive hip throw

Dr Carlos Paula Cardoso, President of the Sports Confederation of Portugal, awarded the medals.

The Ippons came thick and fast from the home nation - from young Judoka like Goncalo Oliviera who displayed beautiful footwork and raw power, to established Portuguese stars like Telma Monteiro - they put on a show for the Portuguese public, gaining incredible momentum for the next two days of the inaugural Grand Prix in Portugal.