Before we get in to the shape up of the final block, one contest that was on everyones minds going in to the second day of the Hungary Grand Slam was a potential head to head between Saeid MOLLAEI (MGL) and Sagi MUKI (ISR). The anticipation has been lingering for quite some time for the two former world champions given a political history, but today was the day.
It was a slow start, it appeared they were both fighting not to lose, as opposed to looking for the win. There was a lot of pressure on the pair and the contest went in to the golden score two shidos on the board for each. Less than half a minute went by before Mollaei managed to counter Muki’s attack and score. Following the contest, there was a great deal of respect shown by both.
Current European champion, Gemma HOWELL (GBR) came close in the semi final against HORIKAWA Megumi (JPN), both went in to golden score, but the Japanese won in ne waza. Horikawa was not a seeded athlete, nor is the other -63kg finalist, Angelika SYZMANSKA (POL).
Szymanksa defeated Gili SHAHIR (ISR) and Catherine BEAUCHEMIN-PINARD (CAN) to get in to the semi final against Ketelyn QUADROS (BRA). Immediately she was on the attack and scored with a driving o uchi. She continued with a waza ari score on the board, transitioning in to juji gatame, only to move again in to osaekomi. With this she took her place in the final.
The top two seeds, Lasha SHAVDATUASHVILI (GEO) and Hidayat HEYDAROV (AZE) will go head to head in the final of the -73kg category, though their opponents were tough, they had the winning edge. They have faced each other three times in the past, the most recent in 2019 with the Azerbaijani coming out on top for the first time. The pair have developed since then and today will be a fresh face off.
There was always a chance that one of them would make a mistake in the semi final, and they faced unseeded athletes; Adam STODOLSKI and Magdiel ESTRADA (CUB) for their places.
It is a surprise to say that we won’t see the world number one, Sanne VAN DIJKE (NED) in the final block of the -70kg category, however she was bested by both Maria PEREZ (CUB) and Kelly PETERSEN-POLLARD (GBR) who will both compete for bronze. Instead, the only European in the final is Miriam BUTKEREIT (GER) who took bronze in the Ulaanbaatar Grand Slam, and is now bettering her results and stacking her points. Perez took her in to golden score and a counter is how she earned her final place.
As it turns out, Mollaei didn’t waste too much of his energy in his early round against Muki, and luckily stored some for a ballistic contest against Asad MASABIROV (KGZ). His opponent managed a score against him which kept the chase interesting, he waited patiently for a weak attack and countered a drop seoi nage with a swift over roll. On the other hand, in his semi final, Mollaei found it incredibly difficult to counter Nugzari TATALASHVILI (UAE). Both had picked up shidos and dived in to golden score, though Tatalashvili was dishing out the attacks, Mollaei held on and eventually secured the waza ari.
Mollaei now faces Guilherme SCHIMIDT (BRA) who defeated Vedat ALBAYRAK (TUR) for his final position. The 21 year-old took gold in the Antalya Grand Slam and since became Panamerican-Oceania champion in April. It will be an exciting match up!
The final block will take place at 17:00 with live stream available at live.ijf.org.
Author: Thea Cowen