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Juul Franssen claims gold on emotional comeback
18 Nov 2017 16:55
Dutch judoka Juul Franssen returned with avengement on Saturday as she won the hosts’ first gold medal at their new Grand Prix by defeating European Championships bronze medallist Alice Schlesinger (GBR) in the -63kg final. Franssen who won the Grand Slam of Abu Dhabi just before she was suspended by the Dutch Judo Association.
Franssen came into the gold medal contest with a 2-1 lead in her head-to-head series with Schlesinger but has been in exile for one year as she plotted a solution to her training and competition programme that would suit both herself and her Federation. The two judoka were almost going one-for-one with attacks in a lively final as Schlesinger pushed forward with her sode-tsurikomi-goshi and Franssen retaliated with seoi-nage and tai-otoshi efforts. After 80 seconds of golden score Schlesinger looked like a spent force and was penalised for going out of the competition area to gift the title to her opponent who was overcome with emotion.
In the first semi-final Schlesinger scored six times to humble world number 120 Iris Iwema (NED) at home. Free-scoring Schlesinger was irresistible and peppered the scoreboard at will to seal a place in the final after an incredible display. In the second semi-final Franssen beat teenage Junior World silver medallist Sanne Vermeer (NED) by a waza-ari which came with 23 seconds left in the contest and was the only score of the contest.
The first bronze medal contest was won by Vermeer who defeated Tashkent Grand Prix bronze medallist Beauchemin-Pinard. The first medal for the hosts came in the first contest in the final block as Vermeer earned her first Grand Prix medal at her first attempt. A failed ippon-seoi-nage from the experienced Canadian left Vermeer with the opportunity to counter and the 19-year-old home judoka took down Beauchemin-Pinard for a waza-ari to the delight of the home crowd.
The second bronze medal was won by Sofia European Open bronze medallist Stefanie Tremblay (CAN) who finished with her best result on the IJF World Judo Tour. Neither judoka had medalled on the Grand Prix stage before and that distinction went to the Canadian who first scored with an ouchi to ko-uchi-gari combination. With 10 seconds remaining the Canadian trapped her Dutch rival in osaekomi for 20 seconds to steal a march on her teammate Tremblay and deny the hosts a second medal from consecutive contests.
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