Tsetsentsengel Odkhuu shows his potential in Israel
23-Year-old Tsetsentsengel Odkhuu captured the gold medal at the Grand Slam in Tel Aviv. Odkhuu qualified for the final to face Ushangi Kokauri (AZE), seventh in Paris at the beginning of February and seventh in the Jerusalem World Judo Masters in December.
Usually very mobile and active, Odkhuu seemed to be struggling to keep the pace at the beginning of the final. Overpowered by Kokauri, he was obviously suffering, but with a sudden change in direction he surprised Kokauri with a sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi that was awarded a waza-ari. The most difficult was still to come to keep that advantage alive, which eventually Odkhuu could manage, to win the gold medal. Slightly limping while stepping off the tatami, he took time to thank the public, who had been supporting him very vocally.
It's never easy to find a place under the sun when you're French and you evolve in the shadow of Riner. However, Emre Sanal (FRA) bravely seized his chance to qualify for the first match for a bronze medal, against the second Brazilian of the category, Joao Cesarino (BRA) and concluded with a first waza-ari before pinning down his opponent for ippon to win his first ever World Judo Tour medal.
Jaegu Youn (KOR) and Rafael Silva (BRA) qualified for the second bronze medal contest. After receiving three penalties, while Silva was only sanctioned once, Youn was disqualified to send the bronze medal to Silva and Brazil.
Number one seed, Rafael Silva (BRA) could logically hope to impose his powerful figure and his impressive record: 25 medals on the World Judo Tour, 3 world medals, 2 Olympic podiums. At 35, he is still motivated to win and run for a new Olympic qualification. If the first rounds went well for the Brazilian giant, he finally fell in the semi-finals, facing finalist Ushangi Kokauri (AZE).