The second day of the International Judo Federation Grand Prix in Tunis proved momentous for Kosovo, and for Akil Gjakova, who became the first male medallist from his country.
Gjakova, who made his Grand Prix debut in 2014, finally reached the podium at the 13th time of asking as he took the silver medal to add to the gold earned by his sister Nora in the previous day’s under 57 kilograms category.
The Kosovo judoka was unable to counter the fluent technique of Kazakhstan’s Zhansay Smagulov in the under 73kg final, eventually being beaten by a clear ippon at the El Menzah Sports Hall.
But it was a momentous achievement nevertheless, both for the indefatigable judoka and his home nation.
Mirzokhid Farmanov of Uzbekistan and Yuhei Yoshida of Japan took bronze medals after respective victories over Benjamin Axus of France and Mohammad Mohammadi of Iran.
A combination from tachi-waza to ne-waza 20 seconds from the end of the men’s under 81kg final was enough to earn gold for Russia’s Stanislav Semenov, whose adroit manoeuvre enabled him to immobilise Turkey’s Vedat Albayrak for ippon.
An opportunistic o-soto-gari from Kenya Kohara of Japan was enough to earn ippon over Croatia’s bronze medallist at last year’s European Championships, Dominik Druzeta.
It was Kohara’s first Grand Prix medal.
The other bronze went Brazil’s Eduardo Yudy Santos, who defeated Yuji Yamamoto of Japan.
Slovenia’s Rio 2016 champion at under 63kg, Tina Trstenjak, overcame the stubborn challenge of Japan’s Aimi Nouchi to earn expected gold.
Australia’s Katharina Haecker, the 2016 Oceania champion, beat Sanne Vermeer of The Netherlands in her bronze medal match, and the other went to Austria’s Magdalena Krssakova, who defeated Britain’s Lucy Renshall with a waza-ari on the edge of the competition area.
Former world number one Kim Polling of The Netherlands secured gold in the under 70kg category by defeating Belgium’s Roxane Taeymans.
Britain’s Gemma Howells and Saki Nizoe of Japan took the bronze medals after respective wins over Michaela Polleres of Austria and Hilde Jager of The Netherlands.
After nine weight categories - five yesterday and four today - the titles have been distributed among nine nations: Kosovo, Slovenia, Kazakhstan, France, Russia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Brazil and The Netherlands.
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