As always the Israeli crowd have provided one of the most incredible environments on the tour, supporting their athletes with bellowing cheers and drums.
However it wasn’t the best opener for the host nation as they had a few early exits and surprise ones from the likes of Timna NELSON LEVY in her opening round. Then again we are still heading in to the final block with Baruch SHMAILOV in the -66kg category final and Gefen PRIMO competing for the bronze in -52kg.
One of the biggest surprises of the day comes from the men’s French team, 26 year-old Daikii BOUBA in the -66kg category who will face Shmailov in the final today. Regardless of his result from this gold medal contest, it is his first on the IJF Tour, though not his first appearance in the final block, taking fifth places in both the Tel Aviv and Paris Grand Slam events earlier this year.
In the first instance he defeated Orkhan SAFAROV (AZE) and then regular tour medallist, YONDONPERENLEI Baskhuu (MGL) for a place in the semi final to secure a place in the final block. Things are certainly looking up for the French mens side and puts them in good stead this week following an undesirable result in Baku, but certainly finding their feet again in Tokyo with three bronze medals, two of which from the men.
The -60kg had been dominated by the Asian entry as NAGAYAMA Ryuju (JPN) and LEE Harim (KOR) go head to head for the gold. There is a definite medal going home to Azerbaijan as Balabay AGHAYEV and Turan BAYRAMOV compete for the bronze, leaving Giorgi SARDALASHVILI (GEO) in with the chance of the second bronze medal against Olympic silver medallist, YANG Yung Wei (TPE).
Shirine BOUKLI (FRA) has defended her number one status and has also ensured another medal will be going home as she goes up against KOGA Wakana (JPN) for the gold medal and masters title. Catarina COSTA (POR) lost out to the French but takes a place in the bronze fight, as does the Italian youngster Assunta SCUTTO from the other side of the draw.
It’ll be an all-European podium in the -52kg category, PUPP Reka (HUN) having already been gifted the bronze medal as neither Amandine BUCHARD (FRA) or Diyora KELDIYOROVA (UZB) were able to come through the repechage. The home crowd will be rallying for their girl Primo as she faces Olympic medallist Odette GIUFFRIDA and then for the final we have the -48kg Olympic champion Distria KRASNIQI (KOS) taking on Chelsie GILES (GBR), world ranked #7 and #6 respectively.
Finally, a third and ultimate final goes to France at the hands of Sarah Leonie CYSIQUE in the -57kg category, edging her team to a possible lead in the standings on day one of the IJF Masters here in Jerusalem. Since her disqualification loss in the Olympic Games, we have been waiting for a rematch between her and current Olympic champion Nora GJAKOVA (KOS) and she gave it her all, sending Gjakova to the repechage and cementing her place in the semi final against LIEN Chen-Ling (TPE) and this consecutive win takes her on to challenge 2019 world champion, Christa DEGUCHI (CAN) for the title. Gjakova survived the repechage round and will compete for bronze.
The final block starts at 17:00 local time, follow the action at live.ijf.org.
Author: Thea Cowen