The experienced Urantsetseg Munkhbat of Mongolia was dominant today and in advance she would be hard to defeat in Tbilisi at the Grand Slam. The light categories opened the competition with the enthusiasm of the newcomers and the determination of the old guard.
Following on from her third place in Doha, during the World Judo Masters and her title in Tashkent two weeks ago, the Mongolian, world champion in 2013 and still very competitive, qualified once again for the final of a World Judo Tour event. This secured her a 39th medal on the circuit, not counting her three world medals.
The two battling Spaniards met each-other in the contest for the bronze medal. Laura Martinez Abelenda and Julia Figueroa, while they still race towards an Olympic selection had to compete in the Arena. It was Julia Figueroa who seemed to gain the upper hand over her compatriot on the other side of the draw, as she qualified for the semi-final, but her road to the podium was suddenly blocked, when she was defeated by the Italian Francesca Milani. The Italian was not among the seeds when warming up at the beginning of the day. With no record on the World Judo Tour so far, Milani can be proud of an amazing competition day.
Without any surprise, Munkhbat Urantsetseg won the gold medal. We cannot say that Francesca Milani did not try and she definitely showed courage and determination, but the Mongolian was for sure much stronger than her young opponent and after several attempts on the floor, finally concluded with an immobilisation that was awarded ippon, just one second before the end of the match.
Martinez Abelenda and Figueroa thus eventually met for the bronze medal. Knowing one another perfectly, it took more than 2 minutes and 40 seconds in the golden score for Figueroa to finally score with a beautiful o-uchi-gari, to reinforce her lead over her teammate for the Olympic qualification.
The second bronze medal contest featured Catarina Costa (POR), already fifth twice this year (Doha and Tel Aviv) and Marusa Stangar (SLO), the sister of Anja Stangar, whom we have been following throughout her triumphant battle against cancer in recent months. After a nice sequence on the floor, Marusa Stangar scored ippon with an hold down.
The two Serbian women Nikolic and Stojadinov are in the same situation as the Spaniards, also quite in balance but both got surprised in their first roud today and didn't get a second chance.