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Judo Grand Slam: Tashkent 2021 at the apex of Judoka mastery

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By Jim OHagan

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Judo Grand Slam: Tashkent 2021 at the apex of Judoka mastery

The Tashkent Judo Grand Slam is underway and the 2013 World Champion from Mongolia – Munkhbat Urantsetseg was a force to be reckoned with on Day 1. She took on 2018 Masters Champion Tsunoda Natsumi.

Munkhbat landed an explosive tani otoshi, a technique she had been perfecting for this very moment.

The medals were presented by President of the National Olympic Committee of Uzbekistan, Mr Rustam Shoabdurakhmanov. And Munkhbat took home her first IJF World Tour gold medal since 2018.

“I was very happy to win against my Japanese opponent, because I’d been preparing this technique specifically for her,’ explains Munkhbat. “So when it worked I was overjoyed and happy.”

The man of the day was World No. 1 Nagayama Ryuju. Ever calm and collected with spectacular skills, his path to the final was full of masterclass moments in Judo technique. Nagayama bested Kazakhstan’s Yeldos Smetov in the final with a flawless drop seoi nage.

President of the Judo Federation of Uzbekistan and Vice President of the National Olympic Committee of Uzbekistan, Mr Azizjon Kamilov presented the medals.

“I am very grateful to be here in this competition and able to fight despite the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ryuju told reporters. “Also, I am delighted about this result and just feeling happy about being back to Judo again.”

In the under 52kg category, reigning World Champion Abe Uta clinched yet another Gold medal. She was presented her medal by Mr Mohammed Meridja, Education and Coaching Director of the International Judo Federation.

The under 66kg category saw An Baul defeat Mongolia’s Yondonperenlei. The medals were presented by General Secretary of the National Olympic Committee of Ubekistan, Mr Oybek Kosimov.

In the under 57kg category, Mr Vladimir Barta, Head Sport Director of the International Judo Federation presented the gold medal to Japan’s Tamaoki Momo. Momo earned her second Grand Slam gold after forcing Lien Cheng-Ling of Chinese Taipei into submission with a chokehold.

But the silver medalist was behind our ‘moment of the day’.

The action continues in Uzbekistan tomorrow with the middleweight bouts.

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Vandoorne bounces back from disappointment to take Formula E Round 4 in Rome

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Vandoorne bounces back from disappointment to take Formula E Round 4 in Rome

Belgium’s Stoffel Vandoorne produced a stunning display to clinch the second race of a thrilling Formula E double header in Rome on Sunday.

After enduring a disappointing Round 3 in the Italian capital on Saturday, the Mercedes driver looked in control throughout the race despite the damp weather conditions. He made rapid progress from fourth on the grid, after pole-sitter Nick Cassidy spun down to eleventh following an early mishap.

With Cassidy’s Envision racing team looking on in disbelief, Vandoorne took advantage of another mistake, this time by Lucas Di Grassi.

The Brazilian lost control of his car and the resulting collision involving Sebastien Buemi played into Vandoorne’s hands: prompting a full-course yellow that nullified the threat of any dangerous attack mode uses from the chasing pack.

At the restart, Mahindra driver Alexander Sims jumped Wehrlein for second, whilst Vandoorne increased his lead and never looked back.

A late safety car brought the pack onto his tail. But with one lap remaining, it was too little too late for his rivals, as Vandoorne crossed the finish line ahead of Sims and Wehrlein, thanks to a final well-timed fan boost and a good collective effort from the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team.

“It tastes good today to take home the victory,” said Vandoorne after the race. “It feels like we needed this yesterday, especially after the pole position and the speed we showed yesterday. But, yeah, I kept believing, I was confident in the car again today, I made the moves when it counted.”

This result sees Vandoorne edging closer to the current leading trio in the overall standings. He’s now just one point behind Robin Frijns whilst Jaguar Racing’s Sam Bird is still top. Next stop is Round 5 in Valencia on April 24.

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Portugal doesn’t have a big tradition of winter sports but there are some chasing the Olympic dream

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Portugal doesn't have a big tradition of winter sports but there are some chasing the Olympic dream

Portugal doesn’t have a big tradition of winter sports, but the country has at least two athletes aiming to reach the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022, even if their preparation is on wheels.

25-year-old José Cabeça’s has achieved what no one had ever done before: a performance at a world championship that allows him to represent Portugal in a cross-country skiing event in Beijing.

Not bad for someone who learnt to ski in just one year in order to fulfil his Olympic dream.

“People ask – how is it possible that in one year he goes from not being able to ski to be in a position to make it to the Olympics and become the first Portuguese to qualify through the world championships?” says Cabeça.

“There’s a lot of hard work for several years, obviously not in skiing. Triathlon has played a key role. I’ve managed to learn, little by little and all by myself. I don’t have a skiing coach. I’ve learnt with other athletes and by watching videos.”

Cabeça started his cross-country skiing adventure about a year and a half ago in France, where he lived for two and a half months to “be able to train”, because “it is impossible in Portugal”.

A few months later, in February this year, he reached the high point of his early career in the sport, with a score at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Germany, that opened a spot for Portugal at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

From roller to ice speed skating

Diogo Marreiros is a silver medalist in the 10km roller speed skating world championships. He switched to ice to fulfil his Olympic dream.

Currently, he trains almost every day in Lagos on one of the two tracks suitable for this sport in the region and he’s positive about the challenge of training conditions for winter sports in Portugal.

“At this time of year, ice speed skaters travel to warm countries and keep their form with lots of cycling and roller skating. Being far is not a big problem as all the skaters are currently away from the ice,” says Marreiros.

Marreiros first put skates on at the age of four and won his first European Championship medal at 16.

The 29-year-old skater has accumulated medals on wheels ever since, including European vice-champion and the world vice-champion 10km Pontos.

Over the last four years, he has been preparing over the winter season in Germany and the Netherlands, where he has been improving his “technique and physical shape,” allowing him to “qualify for the world cups” scheduled for the end of the year.

He’s even launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund his preparation on ice and train in the Netherlands.

His ranking in the world cups taking place over four weekends in a row in Poland, Norway, Canada and the United States from 14 November to 14 December will determine if he will be in China in February.

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Nyman offers a masterclass on closing day of Antalya Grand Slam

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By Richard Good
 & International Judo Federation

Nyman offers a masterclass on closing day of Antalya Grand Slam

On the final day of the Antalya Grand Slam, it was the turn of the heavyweights to put on their show. And Sweden’s Marc Nyman offered a masterclass in newaza, or floor-based judo, taking the -90kg title with a golden score wazari against Hungary’s Krisztian Toth.

Dr Laszlo Toth, the president of the Hungarian Judo Association, handed out the medals.

The 2018 World Champion Shori Hamada offered her own demonstration of precision newaza throughout the day and she claimed her third Grand Slam gold medal with victory over Poland’s Beata Pacut in the -78kg final.

Skander Hachicha, the president of the Tunisian Judo Federation, made the presentations.

Hershko digs deep for first-ever Grand Slam gold

Azerbaijan’s Zelim Kotsoiev won a tactical final against Aaron Wolf of Japan to take his first-ever Grand Slam Gold in the -100kg category.

IJF Events Director, Dr Lisa Allan presented the medals.

Israel’s Raz Hershko won her first-ever Grand Slam in an exciting finale to the +78kg contest against China’s Xu Shiyan. With Hershko a wazari up, Xu scored on the buzzer to take the match to a golden score. But Hershko dug deep with a second wazari to claim the gold.

Ki-Young Jeon, the IJF referee supervisor, gave out the medals.

“Wow, it was crazy. I didn’t know what to do with myself,” said Hershko afterwards. “I was so excited so the first thing I did was scream and shout like crazy because I said ‘wow I won this fight’. It was so dramatic and it was my win, it was my first win and it was a big win and I’m so happy.”

Remarkable ippon secures gold for Bashaev

And in the +100kg contest, Russia’s Tamerlan Bashaev was on top form throughout the day, storming through the preliminaries to set up a final against World and Olympic Silver Medallist Harasawa Hisayoshi. It was Bashaev who took the contest, with a remarkable ippon.

Florin Daniel Lascau, the acting IJF refereeing director, presented him with his medal.

“I think it’s a part of judo,” Bashaev said afterwards. “Because when we fight, when I win against my opponent it’s like I destroyed his dream, so I can’t be like, oh I’m the best.”

The home athletes also enjoyed some fine successes throughout the three days of the tournament, contributing to an incredible festival of judo in Antalya, Turkey.

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