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Saki Niizoe makes golden debut in IJF World Tour
3 Dec 2016 12:25
Japanese Niizoe Saki made a dream start to life on the IJF circuit as she beat her nearest rival in Tyumen Grand Slam winner Arai Chizuru to top the podium.
The 20-year-old former Junior Asian Championships winner put Arai under pressure from the outset and the latter was penalised with a shido for breaking the grip of her opponent with both hands. Both judoka were penalised with a shido for passivity as Niizoe, Kodokan Cup gold medallist, won a deserved gold with Rio 2016 Olympic champion at this weight Tachimoto Haruka among the interested parties in the considerable crowd.
In the first semi-final Arai held down former world number one Kelita Zupancic (CAN) for osaekomi for 17 seconds and applied particular pressure to the left arm of the Canadian who conceded the contest. In the second semi-final Taipei Asian Open winner Maeda Naeko (JPN) succumbed to NIIZOE on shido penalties with three against the former and one only against the 20-year-old.
The first bronze medal was claimed by Maeda who outlasted 2015 Tokyo Grand Slam silver medallist Ono Yoko in golden score. Ono was penalised for passivity after two minutes of additional time to end the dueling chants from the companies behind their respective judoka.
The second bronze medal was captured by two-time Grand Slam bronze medallist Elvismar Rodriguez (VEN) who has spent the last couple of weeks training at Tokai University. Rodriguez, who is still only 19, won an all-Pan American contest against Zupancic with a must-see de-ashi-barai for ippon after 17 seconds of golden score. The Venezuelan spent several weeks at the IJF Training Centre in Budapest to prepare for Rio 2016 and was financially supported to compete at Olympic qualification events by the IJF.
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