Abu Dhabi, where old meets new and the latest stop on the World Judo Tour for the Gulf nation’s Grand Slam.
Day 1 saw an intense battle of wills between Gusman Kyrgyzbayev and France’s Walide Khyar. It ended with a powerful counter by the Kazakh judoka, driving and commiting his weight forward, and winning him Grand Slam glory.
His Excellency Mohamed Bin Thaloob Al Derai, President of the United Arab Emirates Judo Federation presented Kyrgyzbayev with his medal.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea arrived with a strong team, andKim Jin A led from the front – defeating France’s Sarah-Léonie Cysique with a quick change of direction and earning her a gold medal.
She was awarded her medal by Mr Michael Peters, CEO of Euronews.
Italy’s young gun Manuel Lombardo looked fantastic all day – an enormous sode, his highlight on the way to the final. There he dispatched Azerbaijan’s Orkhan Safarov with two strong dropping techniques, one a seoi-nage, the other a kata guruma. After coming fifth at the World Championships, the Italian is definitely one to watch!
Lombardo was awarded his medal by Mr Umar Kremlev, Secretary General of the Boxing Federation of Russia.
“I didn’t refocus, because I was always focussed,” Lombardo said after his win. “Because in the World Championship I lost my bronze medal contest against the Japanese, Abe, after the referee give me ippon. So this time when they give my ippon, I was quiet, and I waited for the referee decision, and then I scored the second waza-ari.”
With one year to go until the Tokyo Olympics, Kosovan hero Majlinda Kelmendi is looking to create the same unstoppable momentum that crowned her Olympic champion. An epic rematch of the 2016 Olympic final went the same way as the Olympics, with a strong counter scoring Ippon in Golden Score.
She was awarded her medal by Mr Khalid Eisa Almidfa, Assistant General Secretary of the UAE General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare.
“I know how to motivate myself, I know exactly what I have to do if I want to become, again, Olympic champion,” Kelmendi said. “Because I’ve been there before, and I know how to deal with a lot of things. It’s not easy, but I’m trying and working really hard to defend my title and write again history for my country.”
Ukranian wunderkind Daria Bilodid was back on the mat after her second world title win a couple of months ago . She gave another strong performance, dominating her contests on the ground to take yet another gold.
Move of the Day
Our move of the day came from the silver medalist in the -57kg category, France’s on-form Sarah-Léonie Cysique, who executed a beautiful footsweep to score a fantastic Ippon.