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Emmerich overhauls Costa at judo Grand Prix

Date: May 26, 2021

Category: Judo

Brazil’s Meg Emmerich reached the top of her first International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Judo Grand Prix podium on Wednesday (26 May), spectacularly beating Italian World Championships bronze medallist Carolina Costa in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Emmerich, the Pan-American champion in the women’s over 70kg, used Costa’s own movement against her to secure ippon in the final in expert fashion.

The win clearly meant a huge amount to the Brazilian and her teammates and staff could be heard screaming in delight from the stands.

“I would like to thank those who were in the crowd for us sending good vibes and the entire technical team, this medal belongs to all of us,” Emmerich said. “The resumption of competitions is also important to see what we have to improve, and this achievement helps me a lot in the fight to go to Tokyo.”

There was double podium delight elsewhere in the event for Brazil as Rebeca Silva claimed bronze. Kazakhstan’s Zarina Baibatina also grabbed third.

World champion Alana Maldonado doubled Brazil’s gold medal haul in the women’s up to 70kg, despite facing a tough challenge from an in-form Zulfiya Huseynova.

Huseynova had beaten Mexican Paralympic champion Lenia Ruvalcaba on the way to the final. But Maldonado’s form from earlier in the day shone through and she looked unshakeable against the Azeri fighter.

Maldonado scored first and went on to achieve an ippon over Huseynova, winning all of her matches decisively on Wednesday.

“I am very happy, it is the first competition after more than a year without competing and seeing my opponents,” Maldonado said. “I managed to put into practice everything that we have been doing in training, mainly in ne waza. I managed to finish two fights today using those skills and I see this as a very big growth. Now, onwards to Tokyo!”

Ruvalcaba got the chance to finish on the podium, but could not overcome Georgia’s Ina Kaldani. Russia’s Old Zabrodskaya grabbed the final bronze.

Uzbekistan’s Shirin Sharipov delivered an upset in the men’s over 100kg. He knocked-out South Korean Gwang-Geun Choi – the men’s up to 100kg Paralympic champion – in his first contest of the day and then beat Iranian world champion Mohammedezra Kheirollahzadeh for gold.

Choi settled for bronze. There was also a return to the podium for Cuba’s Rio 2016 bronze medallist Yordani Fernandez Sastre in third.

The men’s up to 100kg final featured the latest face-off between rivals Zviad Gogotchuri of Georgia and Great Britain’s Chris Skelley.

Both fighters showed that their technique has not faded in the gap in competition, matching each other in ne waza. In the end it was Paralympic champion Gogotchuri that emerged on top, over-hauling Skelley for ippon.

Uzbek teammates Sulaymon Alaev and Sharif Kahlilov took bronze.

Uzbekistan’s Davurkhon Karomatov stunned Azerbaijan’s Worlds silver medallist Huseyn Rahimli with a quick ippon the final of the men’s 81kg. Karomatov’s throw came within the first minute of the bout.

Mexico’s Paralympic champion Eduardo Avila Sanchez left Baku with bronze. World title-holder Jung-Min Lee was the victor in his bronze medal match with France’s Nathan Petit, who appeared injured at the end of the contest.

Azerbaijan’s Khanim Huseynova went head-to-head with Russia’s Olga Pozdnysheva in the women’s up to 63kg, claiming gold.

Ukraine’s Paralympic and Worlds silver medallist Iryna Husieva pinned the USA’s Liana Mutia for ippon in her bronze medal match. Turkey’s Cete Artar also achieved an ippon against Spain’s Marta Arce Payno to secure the final podium spot.

Ukraine’s Rio 2016 silver medallist and world champion Oleksandr Nazarenko beat Iran’s Vahid Nouri in the men’s up to 91kg final.

Despite scoring, Nazarenko had to be careful with two shidos on the board and appeared uncertain in his attack. However the Ukrainian held on for long enough for the win as the clock ticked down to zero.

Kazakhstan’s Zhanbota Amanzohl and France’s Helios Latchoumanaya were the bronze medallists.

The 2021 IBSA Judo Grand Prix in Baku was one of two remaining qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Next up the circuit heads to Warwick, Great Britain, from 19-20 June.

Full results from both days of competition in Baku can be viewed here.

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