BERNABEU FINDS FORM TO TAKE GOLD IN CANCUN

Grand Prix Cancun 2017

It is widely acknowledged that getting to the top in any discipline is difficult and nobody gets an easy ride. Consistency is essential on the climb to the dizzy heights of success. So it is surprising that Maria BERNABEU (ESP) is ranked as high as number 13 on the IJF World Ranking List given the fact that the 29-year old Spaniard has been unable to string together back-to-back wins for the past year. That sorry state of affairs came to an end on day two of the Cancun Grand Prix when Bernabeu took the gold medal in the -70kg category.

Taking advantage of being seeded number three, Bernabeu enjoyed a first round bye that put her into a quarter final place where she was drawn against Roxanne TAEYMANS (BEL). In a contest that did little to occupy the scorers, Taeymans committed three errors within the first two minutes bringing a premature end to a truly forgettable match-up that saw the Belgian suffer a third successive defeat at the hands of Bernabeu. In the semi final Bernabeu faced Gemma HOWELL (GBR) against whom a single waza ari (scored with de ashi barai) was sufficient to take the Spaniard into the final to face another British fighter, Sally CONWAY (GBR).

Bernabeu has a particularly poor record (2-8) against Conway. But it was an aggressive and combative Bernabeu who pursued, harassed and unsettled the British fighter, eventually catching Conway with de ashi barai for waza ari. And, as if to make matters worse (for Conway in any case), the British fighter collected three penalties to hand Bernabeu her second career Grand Prix gold medal.

There were a trio of pluses for Bernabeu. First, she managed to put together three wins in a row. Second, she broke a four in a row losing streak to Conway that went back to December 2013. And third, Bernabeu earned herself valuable WRL points that may yet see her in a seeded position at the world championships in Budapest in a few months’ time. Bernabeu picked up a silver medal at the world championships in 2015. She will need to demonstrate real consistency to put herself on the podium again.

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