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Audrey Tcheumeo grabs gold in the Lion's den
22 Feb 2016 06:30
Former French world champion Audrey Tcheumeo defeated world number three from Germany Luise Malzahn in the U78kg final in a final between two of the strongest candidates for Rio 2016 honours. World number two Tcheumeo defeated world number three Malzahn with a thumping osoto-gari earning waza-ari and the pair exchanged shido penalties as the former was penalised for stepping out and the latter was held accountable for being passive. Despite the defeat Malzahn won a record 16th Grand Prix medal of her career to become the most prolific medallist on the Grand Prix stage in judo.
Tcheumeo defeated Malzahn six times, that didn’t prevent the fan block of supporting Malzahn to the end. Tcheumeo made it 7-1 in head2heads, but that only win by Malzahn was the World bronze medal final in Astana, which is a valuable one for the German winner in Düsseldorf in 2014. She couldn’t regain her title.
In the first semi-final Tcheumeo sensationally defeated former world champion Marhinde Verkerk (NED) by ippon in 12 seconds as the Frenchman ferociously claimed her place in the final. Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner Verkerk, who finished fifth at the London 2012 Olympic Games, was thrown for the maximum score. In the second semi-final the Paris Grand Slam bronze medallists collided as Luise Malzahn (GER) faced Paris Grand Slam bronze medallist Natalie Powell (GBR) on home soil. Powell got her first taste of Grand Slam honours a week ago and was looking for one more medal to add to her vast Grand Prix collection but Malzahn was not going to be stopped in Germany. The Briton countered Malzahn for a yuko but the latter improved after going behind and produced a harai-goshi for ippon.
The first bronze medal was won by world silver medallist Ana Velensek (SLO) against 13-time Grand Prix medallist Powell. Velensek saved her best performance of the day for her most important contest as she held down Welsh judoka Powell for 20 seconds and ippon.
The second bronze medal contest was won by Tokyo Grand Slam silver medallist Guusje Steenhuis (NED) who narrowly defeated Verkerk in what could be a winner-take-all result in the race for Rio 2016. Verkerk was penalised with a shido for passivity and that decided the scoreless bout after four minutes.
Tcheumeo claimed her third victory in four months’ time: Jeju, Paris and Düsseldorf, not a bad line-up for one of the favourites for an Olympic medal.
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Athanasios Milonelis (GRE)
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