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Judo: China, the land of the rising winners

Date: March 14, 2023

Category: Judo

Curtain down for the 2023 IBSA Judo Grand Prix Egypt at the Borj Al Arab Sports Hall in Alexandria. After two days of strong competition, the summary is very clear: China reveals a growing power in blind judo, leaving the Egyptian tournament as the third-best country in medals; 7 (two gold, three silver, and three bronze).

The winner of the women’s J1 -57kg category is the best example in the land of the rising winners. Yijie Shi, 23, took home the gold in her first international competition — actually, in her first participation outside China. A completely unknown judoka at the world stage who came not just to get international experience.

“I was really nervous in the first fight”, she started to say. “I checked all the competitors and the environment, but besides all that, I wanted to win. That was my only thought. I am very excited about this first place, and my dream is to be a gold medalist in the Paralympic Games. These are my first points on the Road to Paris, but my goal now is to be there and fight for gold”, she added.

So, where was this judoka until now? Yijie Shi has been practicing judo for the last 10 years. She started when she was 13. There was no judo club for blind people in hes hometown, Chenzou. Her coach made a training camp and picked her, but she had to move to Changsha, for the Chaohui sports training center for disabled people to start her sports career. The problem is that Chenzou is four hours away from Changsha, so she had to stay away from home, her parents, and her friends. A new life began, as usual, not easily in the first moments.

“It was hard to be away from them. I went home only on long weekends and special holidays. Nevertheless, I guess that sacrifice was totally worth it. My parents supported me from the very first day”, Shi stated.

A different reality for a two-times Paralympic medalist

Silver medal in Rio 2016 and bronze medal in Tokyo 2020, Ukranian Oleksandr Nazarenko took the gold in the men’s J2 -90kg category in Alexandria. His Road to Paris has not been easy. He still lives in his village, Rudne, next to Lviv, with his wife and two children, which means that his daily routine is hard for a high-performance athlete.

#Accessibility – Oleksandr Nazarenko in the podium next to other medalists, starting from the left: Lee (Korea), Amanzhol (Kazakhstan), and Cannizzaro (Italy).

“It’s not easy”, Sacha, as he is gently called, said with a shy smile. “It’s very difficult for training with the war. Not only because of the sirens but also because a lot of people moved away and there is no one to coach. We train with each other. Normal day? It was supposed to be two training sessions per day, with two hours in the morning and two more in the afternoon, five days a week. Now, not close. It is getting better because more athletes are returning, which will make it easier. We have to continue to work hard and let God decide!”

Ukraine got three gold medals in the 2023 IBSA Judo Grand Prix Egypt. Besides the one from “Sacha”, Nataliya Nikolaychyk (J1 -48kg), and Anastasiia Harnyk (J1 +70kg) also took the victory, adding one silver and three bronze medals in other categories. Which means that Ukraine was the number one country in the competition!

One last remark for Iraq. The two bronze medals, from Taha Al-Gburi (J1 -90kg) and Murtadha Al-Sultani (J1 +90kg) sent the team back home with a bag full of pride and joy.

Check all the podiums of Day 2:

J1 -90kg
1st – Arthur Silva (BRA)
2nd – Daniel Powell (GBR)
3rd – Taha Al-Gburi (IRQ)
3rd – Eduard Tropinov (UKR)

J1 +90kg
1st – Ilham Zakiyev (AZE)
2nd – Yerlan Utepov (KAZ)
3rd – Murtadha Al-Sultani (IRQ)
3rd – Jilong Qi (CHN)

J2 -90kg
1st – Oleksandr Nazarenko (UKR)
2nd – Jung Min Lee (KOR)
3rd – Zhanbota Amanzhol (KAZ)
3rd – Simone Cannizaro (ITA)

J2 +90kg
1st – Zviad Gogotchuri (GEO)
2nd – Aloviddin Jurakulov (UZB)
3rd – Yerlan Konkiyev (KAZ)
3rd – Christopher Skelley (GBR)

J1 -57kg
1st – Yijie Shi (CHN)
2nd – Anzhela Havrysiuk (UKR)
3rd – Priscilla Gagne (CAN)
3rd – Khosiyatkhon Poziljonova (UZB)

J1 -70kg
1st – Nicolina Pernheim Goodrich (SWE)
2nd – Minako Tsuchiya (JPN)
3rd – Matilde Lauria (ITA)

J1 +70kg
1st – Anastasiia Harnyk (UKR)
2nd – Danitza Sanabria (VEN)
3rd – Christella Garcia (USA)

J2 -70kg
1st – Khanim Huseynova (AZE)
2nd – Yue Wang (CHN)
3rd – Kasuza Ogawa (JPN)

J2 +70kg
1st – Carlina Costa (ITA)
2nd – Rebeca Silva (BRA)
3rd – Kirsten Taylor (GBR)
3rd – Ping Wang (CHN)

The 2023 IBSA Judo Grand Prix Antalya should be the next gathering point, but because of the earthquake the competition was cancelled. Part of the IBSA Judo family will meet again at the 2023 IBSA Judo Asian Championships, in Astana, in the end of April.

Mohamed Abas/IBSA
Jonathan George/IBSA
Ahmed Essam/IBSA

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