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Linda Bolder quickly into Olympic shape, gold in Havana
Linda Bolder quickly into Olympic shape, gold in Havana
24 Jan 2016 00:05
by Mark Pickering - IJF
IJF Media Team / International Judo Federation

It was without a doubt a perfect day for Israel. First a motivating gold medal for Yarden Gerbi and in the category U70kg Linda Bolder added a second gold medal to the image of the Israelian women’s team. Linda Bolder was also able to enter the final of the day in the women’s U70kg division. In the final she was opposed to a young athlete with a terrific potential as Gercsak Szabina of Hungary

Gercsak is the current Junior World Champion and winner of the last edition of the Youth Olympic Games, which were held in Nanjing in 2014. No matter what the result of the final would be, this was the first appearance of Gercsak at that level in the senior division. There is no doubt that she has the potential to become one of the favourites for a senior world title and an Olympic title in the future.

After less than 10 seconds, Bolder dropped on her knees in a kata-guruma attempt but for no score even if it lifted Gercsak's feet off the tatami. It was then the Hungarian turned to execute an ample uchi-mata, but without the control of the sleeve, this technique was not successful either. After an interesting ground work session, Bolder could pin down her opponent but only for a second, not enough to take the lead. A little less active than her opponent, the Israeli was penalised with a shido. But a few seconds later it was Gercsak to receive a penalty for stepping outside of the fighting area. Having started with a kata-guruma technique Bolder concluded with the same but this time for a yuko which gave her the victory and a second gold medal for Israel on the occasion of this second day of the Havana Grand Prix 2016.

Linda Bolder declared: “The spirit in the team is very strong. We had a silver yesterday and two golds today. We feel really positive for this year.“

For the first bronze medal fight, team Brazil again entered one of its athletes in the final block, as Maria Portela, bronze medallist last December in Tokyo faced Barbara Matic of Croatia, who was the second top seeded athlete of the category. Disqualified earlier during the competition Matic could not compete due to a hansokumake and therefore Portela added one more bronze to the Brazilian prize list in Cuba.

Silver medallist at the Asian Championships last year, Gulnoza Matniyazova of Uzbekistan, confirmed that she is consistent and that she can regularly reach the final block of a major World Judo Tour event. With a bronze medal at the Baku Grand Slam, last year, French Marie Eve Gahie was Matniyazova’s contender for a place on the podium. The athletes entered the last minute, with a yuko advantage to the French, which she confirmed with a waza-ari after she counterattacked a missed drop-seoi-nage from Matniyazova. With less than 20 seconds left on the scoreboard, the Uzbek had to take some risks, which gave the opportunity to Gahie to conclude the match with a clear ippon with another counterattack.