EJOpen Oberart 2017

At first glance one could easily be mistaken into thinking that there was nothing remarkable about the three weight categories on offer on the second and final day of competition at the European Open in Oberwart. After all, none of the top Japanese currently in Europe had been entered, and only one competitor in each of the three weight categories could claim to come from the top ten from the world ranking list. That was more than compensated for however by the top Koreans taking part. So in some ways it was a case of you win some you lose some. And yet despite sending what in effect was at best a number five team, it was the Japanese who, with some style, managed to take almost complete command of the medal spots.

In the -70kg category ONO Yoko (JPN) is rated 5th in Japan but the 27-year old is nonetheless the current Asian champion and a former Tokyo Grand Slam silver medallist. It was Ono who got things going for the Japanese today defeating in the final number one seed Kelita ZUPANCIC (CAN) to take gold. Only Gemma HOWELL (GBR) managed to sneak a bronze medal for the Europeans. In the -78kg category it was the impressive HAMADA Shori (JPN) who in some respects is almost a mirror image of team mate Ono, being ranked also 5th in Japan and only a few months younger at 26-years old than Ono. It is worth noting that Hamada boasts an enviable record with wins against double Olympic champion Kayla HARRISON (USA), and former world champions Audrey TCHEUMEO (FRA), and Marhinde VERKERK (NED) all in her favourite newaza. Today’s field admittedly did not include such illustrious names but they nevertheless succeeded in succumbing in similar fashion as a relentless Hamada powered her way to the gold medal winning all of contests by ippon in ne waza, ahead of team mate OGATA Akari, and number one seed JOO Abigel (HUN) both of whom took bronze.

The Japanese were well placed to make it three for three but the South Koreans stepped in to spoil their party. It was 28-year old KIM Minjeong (KOR) the Korean number one and current Asian champion who defeated INAMORI Nami (JPN) in the final of +78kg category. Ivana MARANIC (CRO) took a bronze medal making it two in a row (after bronze in Sofia) and a successful start to her new weight category.

-70 k

1. ONO, Yoko (JPN)

2. ZUPANCIC, Kelita (CAN)

3. HOWELL, Gemma (GBR)

3. MAEDA, Naeko (JPN)

-78 kg

1. HAMADA, Shori (JPN)

2. PARK, Yujin (KOR)

3. OGATA, Akari (JPN)

3. JOO, Abigel (HUN)

+78 kg

1. KIM, Minjeong (KOR)

2. INAMORI, Nami (JPN)

3. LEE, Eun-Ju (KOR)

3. MARANIC, Ivana (CRO)




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