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Sarah Menezes picks up the skills of winning in Cuba
23 Jan 2016 12:30
With two gold medals and one bronze medal obtained on the occasion of the first day of competition in Cuba, Brazil showed that step-by-step, all watches will be put at the Brazilian time. But the concurrence is going to be very high in Rio next summer. In Cuba a new season was opened for athletes from around the world, a season that will bring its share of immense joys and inconsolable disappointments whereas years of training will find a conclusion in a few months from now in Rio de Janeiro.
The most awaited athlete of the day in the women’s U48kg category was without any doubt the Argentinian and current world champion, Paula Pareto, who came back to competition today with a brand new red back number. If her first fight went very well as she defeated Amelie Rosseneu (ISR) by ippon, Pareto, her route was blocked by the world number 20 and World Masters 2013 bronze medallist, Dayaris Mestre Alvarez (CUB), who definitely benefited from the support of her home crowd to achieve such a performance. In the absence of Pareto in the final, the current Olympic champion, who looks to be on an ascendant slope towards Rio 2016, entered the final to face Shira Rishony (ISR), whose best result last year was a bronze medal at the Paris Grand Slam. But knowing that the Paris Grand Slam in 2015 was in October, this clearly shows that Rishony also follows a positive ascension.
After 37 seconds in the final, both athletes were penalised with a first shido for passivity. But it did not take long for Menezes to launch a beautiful drop-seoi-nage for a clear and perfect ippon. Menezes looks in good shape at the beginning of this season and after her Olympic title in London and two difficult following years, she is back on track to defend her title in her home country in August.
After her disillusion during the preliminary rounds, Paula Pareto did not fail against her second Cuban opponent of the day as she defeated Yanisleidi Ponciano by ippon. To step onto the podium, she was opposed to a third Cuban athlete, Melissa Hurtado Munoz. Hurtado immediately put her strong right arm over Pareto’s head, but that did not bother the world champion, who scored a first superb waza-ari, with a drop seoi-nage with only one sleeve. But Pareto’s second attack was not precise enough, and the Cuban could counter-attack for a yuko. Stil behind, Hurtado Munoz launched a strong sumi-gaeshi, which make the public react, but for no score. With less than a minute to go, the Argentinian launched a last drop seoi-nage for ippon this time.
The second bronze medal fight opposed Laetitia Payet (FRA), who earlier defeated world number 9, Taciana Lima-Balde (GBS), during the preliminary rounds and Dayaris Mestre Alvarez (CUB). After three minutes, only one penalty was given to the French who could not find the solution against the Cuban. This shido was enough to give the victory and first medal to the Cuban delegation.
For Menezes it was her first victory since April 2015 when she won the Panam Championships and the first gold since July 2014 in an IJF World Tour event.
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