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Sweden’s Anna Bernholm wins maiden Grand Slam title
27 Oct 2017 18:50
Swedish judoka Anna Bernholm broke new ground on Friday when she claimed her first IJF Grand Slam gold medal. The Swedish Zagreb Grand Prix bronze medallist moved up from U63kg to U70kg last year and the move was largely questioned by judo aficionados who thought that she was better suited to the lighter weight.
Bernholm saw her country’s U63kg spot at the Rio 2016 Olympics go to Mia Hermansson and promptly set about making the transition to the heavier weight category with a run for Tokyo 2020 in mind. The world number 16 is now entering her prime and showed her progress in the category by defeating three-time World Judo Masters winner Kim Polling (NED) to take gold in Abu Dhabi. After an entertaining four minutes the scoreboard was still untroubled with no scores or shidos registered. That changed after 31 seconds of golden score when Bernholm threw her world-class Dutch opponent with a hip throw for a waza-ari and the most memorable waza-ari of her thriving career. The victory meant that the judoka from Molkom became the first Swedish woman to win Grand Slam gold on the IJF World Judo Tour.
In the first semi-final Prague European Open bronze medallist Miriam Butkereit (GER) tapped out to Bernholm from a juji-gatame after 30 seconds of golden score. In the second semi-final Polling held down Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Laura Vargas-Koch (GER) with a kuzure-yoko-shiho-gatame for ippon having led by two waza-ari before pinning down her German opponent.
The first bronze medal was awarded to Rio 2016 Olympian Maria Portela (BRA) who scored three waza-ari against Vargas Koch before wrapping up a fine win on the ground with osaekomi-waza.
The second bronze medal was won by 23-year-old Butkereit who defeated European u23 Championships winner Gercsak Szabina (HUN). In her second appearance at a Grand Slam the German judoka gave a great account of herself against vastly more experienced judoka as she threw her opponent with an uchi-mata for a waza-ari and followed up with osaekomi to clinch bronze.
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