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Bilodid converts World Championships greed into gold

28 Jul 2018 11:20

 by Mark Pickering - IJF    IJF Media Team / International Judo Federation

Teenage sensation Daria Bilodid of the Ukraine extended her winning-streak to 25 contests to wrap up her sixth win in nine months at the Grand Prix of Zagreb. Bilodid, 17, who has never lost to a Japanese judoka, defeated world number three Irina Dolgova (RUS) to clinch her third Grand Prix gold medal.

Ukrainian starlet Daria Bilodid has only failed to come away with a medal at a judo competition on one occasion. That painful memory dates back to the 2017 World Championships in Budapest where the 17-year-old lost in round three to Olympic bronze medallist Otgontsetseg Galbadrakh (KAZ) who went on to win bronze.

That feeling is not something Bilodid wants to experience again. Since that day the -48kg star has won six events in a row to move up to fifth-place in the world rankings.

Five teak-tough challengers opposed the teenager in Zagreb and they all left the tatami defeated. Bilodid beat Oceania Championships winner Caroline Hain (AUS), European silver medallist Distria Krasniqi (KOS), Otgonsetseg Galbadrakh (KAZ), world champion Tonaki Funa (JPN) and finally European champion Irina Dolgova (RUS) in the gold medal contest.

Bilodid outperformed everyone in front of her and will be brimming with confidence with her unbeatable form and by overcoming several of the world’s top U48kg judoka and her closest rivals.

The Ukrainian will be a year older in Baku than in Budapest and with that 12 months comes a frightening challenge for her rivals as the teen wonder has matured on the IJF World Judo Tour this year and is only becoming more formidable.

Bilodid is also stronger mentally having defeated the reigning world champion Tonaki on two occasions.

“I’m very happy to win today, it’s my sixth gold medal in nine months, but my focus is on the World Championships,” said the precocious youngster who only turns 18 in October.

“It was a hard but important competition today which is what I needed because I want to be in my best shape for Baku. I want to be world champion this year, it’s all I think about now. Then my attention will be on becoming the Olympic champion.”

The first bronze medal contest was won by Otgontsetseg Galbadrakh (KAZ) who saw off a spirited effort from Milani. World number seven Galbadrakh stopped Italy’s Milani from winning IJF silverware for the first time as the world-class Kazakh prevailed by a waza-ari which was the only score of the opening contest of the final block on Friday.

The second bronze medal was won by Tonaki who showed her character with a clinical finish to take a bronze medal back home to Japan. Tbilisi Grand Prix bronze medallist Melanie Clement (FRA) was caught for a waza-ari and France’s world number nine was pinned down by Tonaki for a second and match-winning waza-ari.

Related judoka and events

Related Judo Photos

  • Irina Dolgova (RUS), Daria Bilodid (UKR) - Grand Prix Zagreb (2018, CRO) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation
  • Irina Dolgova (RUS), Daria Bilodid (UKR), Otgontsetseg Galbadrakh (KAZ), Funa Tonaki (JPN) - Grand Prix Zagreb (2018, CRO) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation
  • Daria Bilodid (UKR) - Grand Prix Zagreb (2018, CRO) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation

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