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Challengers take the opportunity at Almaty Grand Prix

13 May 2016 10:50

   IJF Gabriela Sabau / International Judo Federation
20160513_Almaty_IJF_Elios Manzi

Elio Manzi again showed great judo and the Italian youngster qualified for the final U60kg at the Grand Prix of Almaty. Manzi will face number one seed Rustam Ibrayev, the world’s number two of last World Championships. Ibrayev is the favourite but Manzi showed he is not afraid of anyone. Both Uzbek favourites Lutfillaev and Urozboyev are both in the bronze finals against Kazach opponents Imashev and Telmanov.

Japanese Joshiro Maruyama was in the semi final accompanied by four Kazach judoka, but he made it to the final and will face homeboy Zhansay Smagulov, both never met before. With his great technique Maruyama may be the favourite although he is unseeded. Recently he won the Olympic test event in Rio and was second at the All Japan Championships, so he is in shape.

More likely will be Kazach gold U48kg with Otgontsetseg Galbadrakh who was the expected finalist. Her opponent will be Jeong Bo Kyeong of Korea. They know eachother well and Jeong is the nemesis of Galbadrakh who lost to Jeong four times. So this final isn’t so obvious a guarantee for home gold. Last year in Qingdao it was Galbadrakh who won for the first time, but lost to her in the final of Düsseldorf.

Gili Cohen is again in the final U52kg, just like last week when the number one seed won the Grand Slam of Baku. Her opponent this time is Swiss Evelyne Tschopp. They never fought eachother. It’s Cohen’s ninth final she won 50% so far, for Tschopp it’s her third final but lost the previous two, maybe it was a learning lesson and we can expect fireworks from the 24-year old Swiss with the same age as Cohen.

Not Automne Pavia but Jaione Equisoain made to it the final, somewhat surprising but Pavia got caught in the golden score by the Spaniard who already won three medals this year in Lima, Buenos Aires and Santiago in a successful Pan American tour and last week she was crowned as Spanish champion. For Arleta Podolak this tournament was a contest to medal and she did. She definitely took her chance and she defeated Equisoain twice, although Equisoain is good this year and their previous bouts were in 2012 and 2014, no ABC this time. Podolak won the Polish Open this year and became European Champion with the Polish team, so the Polish flow and the hunger is there when she needs it.

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  • Zhansay Smagulov (KAZ) - Grand Prix Almaty (2016, KAZ) - © IJF Gabriela Sabau, International Judo Federation
  • Grand Prix Almaty (2016, KAZ) - © IJF Gabriela Sabau, International Judo Federation

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