JAPAN STARTS OFF THE YEAR WITH A CLEAN SWEEP IN SOFIA

European Judo Open Women Sofia 2017

Japan claimed all four gold medals in Sofia during the first day of the 2017 European Judo Open for Women. This easily indicates the outcome of the medal table; where the total number of six medals were earned by leading nation, Japan. The closest to get to the winning team was Germany and Great Britain.  

After an all-round Japan final in the -48kg and in the -52kg category, we witnessed Sappho COBAN [GER] facing FUNAKUBO Haruka [JPN] in the final of the -57kg category. The chances were not withdrawn by any means for Coban as she had already defeated ONO Shoko [JPN] during her first contest. Coban out skilled Ono in newaza to take the win. Both, the quarter-final as well as the semi-final were much like a walk in a park for the German athlete.  Coban first she defeated Timna NELSON LEVY [ISR] by Ippon, before sending out Sarah HARACHI [FRA] for bronze. In the final contest Coban’s strength [newaza] became her weakness and after struggling to avoid what was to be Funakubo’s stand out technique of the day.

Sappho COBAN [GER]: “I made a silly mistake in the final which possibly cost me the gold medal today, but overall I have to say I am happy with my performance and especially with my first two contests today. I don’t pay attention on the nationality of my opponents, therefore it did not disturb me by the slightest that I had to face for example Japanese players in two contests. With this medal now, I am looking forward to compete in the up and coming Dusseldorf Grand Prix.”

The -63kg category was the last chance for Europe to claim a golden performance of today. All hopes were planted in Lucy RENSHALL [GBR] when she faced SATO Shiori [JPN]. Renshall showed her usual superb judo style during all her three previous contests, before needing to stand opposite of Sato for the final show. The contest went on head to head with a few penalties given out. However, when the Golden Score was called on, Sato changed into the next gear and out gripped Renshall for the final glory.

Lucy RENSHALL [GBR]: “To be honest, I was very unwell all week this week, but when I woke up this morning, I felt alright and I felt I have what it takes to win it. I am satisfied with my overall performance today, except the final, where I got frustrated for not being able to implement my own judo. However, it gives me a chance to see what I need to work on. I am going to fight in Paris Grand Slam next weekend, which for, I am well excited and will go out there to fight with the best of my abilities.”

So, there it was, four times the same national anthem played back to back during the medal ceremony for the Japanese team made of very young athletes: MORIZAKI Yurie [-48kg], UCHIO Mako [-52kg], FUNAKUBO Haruka [-57kg] and SATO Shiori [-63kg]. Japanese National Team Coach Assistant, AKIMOTO Hiroyuki explained the that this tournament was a test tournament for the younger generation. The selection criteria to attend to this competition involved many rules, such as finishing within the top 8 of the Kodokan Cup. Mr. Akimoto further explained that this young team will continue their journey towards Paris, where they will watch the elite competing and will stay on for the Paris Grand Slam Training Camp to gain more experience.


Podium -48kg 

1. MORIZAKI, Yurie (JPN) 

2. UMEKITA, Mai (JPN) 

3. BOUKLI, Shirine (FRA) 

3. MINSKER, Noa (ISR)

Podium -52kg 

1. UCHIO, Mako (JPN) 

2. TATSUKAWA, Rina (JPN)

3. KRASNIQI, Distria (KOS) 

3. GUICA, Ecaterina (CAN)

Podium -57kg 

1. FUNAKUBO, Haruka (JPN) 

2. COBAN, Sappho (GER) 

3. GJAKOVA, Nora (KOS) 

3. HARACHI, Sarah (FRA)

Podium -63kg

1. SATO, Shiori (JPN) 

2. RENSHALL, Lucy (GBR) 

3. BAZYNSKI, Nadja (GER) 

3. TREMBLAY, Stefanie (CAN)

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