It was experience that spoke throughout the Grand Slam of Abu Dhabi in November, since it was two veterans of the world circuit who qualified for the final. Priscilla Gneto (FRA) was indeed Olympic bronze medallist in 2012 in London, while Telma Monteiro (POR) was in Rio in 2016 and she has one of the most extensive records on the circuit.
What is surprising is that after such a long career already for both competitors, it was the first time that they met on the circuit during an event. For most of the time, the match looked really balanced, time running with no shido on the board, when Monteiro, who is one of the strongest competitors on the World Judo Tour when it comes to the mental game, scored a waza-ari after Gneto released her concentration for a tiny moment. It was enough for Monteiro to win her sixth grand slam gold medal.
Both women fought for 7 years (Monteiro) and Gneto (10 years) in the category U52kg but never fought each-other in U52kg nor in the U57kg division.
Telma Monteiro said, “This medal is very special for me. I decided to continue towards Paris 2024 and this is a good start.”
The first bronze medal match saw Enkhriilen Lkhagvatogoo, winner of the Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix in 2016, face Acelya Toprak (GBR), with no notable reference on the World Judo Tour so far. Hansoku-make was awarded very fast, to Acelya Toprak, as she applied a forbidden technique on her opponent's arm, giving the victory to Enkhriilen Lkhagvatogoo.
Seeded number one, the Israeli Timna Nelson Levy, in Abu Dhabi after winning a superb mixed team bronze medal at the Tokyo 2020 Games, did not manage to reach the final for her return to competition, defeated by Gneto. She had to console herself with a possible bronze medal, but before that she had another Frenchwoman to confront, Faiza Mokdar. Only 20 years old, Mokdar is one of the nuggets of the current French judo system. She just might shine even brighter in the months and years to come. Fast in action, Mokdar was close to overturning her opponent, but Nelson Levy avoided being pinned. During the next sequence, the latter, who seemed to be in control, actually lost control and was held by Mokdar for a first medal in a grand slam for the French competitor. She displayed really good ne-waza throughout the day.