A fantastic gold medal today for Urska Zolnir of Slovenia at the Grand Slam of Tokyo. Zolnir defeated the undisputed favourite Yoshie Ueno who won the event two years ago. Zolnir won the event for the second time in her career, in 2008 she defeated Ueno as well. Miki Tanaka won bronze that year, just like today. Dutch Elisabeth Willeboordse collected a bronze medal, she lost against Ueno in the semi final. Her Dutch equivalent and competitor for an Olympic spot Anicka van Emden lost to Tanaka in the second round. All quarter finallists came from Europe which says a lot about the strength and chances for the Olympic Games for Europe.
Ueno paid back for her victory against Zolnir at the World Championships semi final. Today Zolnir made the difference with a yuko. In the semi final she defeated Miki Tanaka. The first of three Japanese opponents was Haruka Yasumatsu in the first round. Claudia Malzahn of Germany finished fifth after losing to 30-year old Slovenian powerhouse.
It’s her 13th victory in the World Judo Tour since 2001 when she won the Grand Prix of Sevilla. Sofia three victories, Budapest and Tokyo two since today.
Urska Zolnir is the only Slovenian who has ever won an event on the soil of Japan. Zolnir won an Olympic bronze medal in Athens in 2004 and two bronze medals at World Championships.
In the category U57kg a Japanese final between the two frontrunners Kaori Matsumoto and Aiko Sato. Matsumoto won her first World Judo Tour this year. Last year she won seven major events. She prolonged however last year’s title, then against Nozomi Hirai.
Rafaela Silva of Brazil won bronze, Anzu Yamamoto, the World Junior Champion won bronze too. Three European judoka lost the quarter finals including Greek Ioulietta Boukouvala who won the Grand Prix of Amsterdam three weeks ago. Her compatriot Ilias Iliadis also finished fifth today in the men’s U90kg. This division was won by Masashi Nishiyama. He defeated Asley Gonzalez of Cuba, who was victorious over world champion Iliadis.
Russian Kirill Voprosov won the third medal for Russia.
Yesterday Musa Mogushkov (RUS) won a silver medal, today it was Mansur Isaev to reach the final U73kg. Unfortunately the Russian lost to Hiroyuki Akimoto, the 2010 World Champion of Tokyo.
Riki Nakaya, the current World Champ lost to Akimoto in the semi final. Dirk van Tichelt (BEL) won bronze after his loss against Isaev. Three other Europeans finished fifth, among them World silver medallist Dex Elmont who lost to Van Tichelt.
Japan won three gold medals today in the men’s category. U81kg it was Tomohiro Kawakami who beat Leandro Guilheiro (BRA). German Sven Maresch continued with a good result after winning the Grand Slam of Moscow a bit luckily, now he took an important bronze medal. His opponent for Olympic Qualification Ole Bischof lost in the 1/8 final against Keita Nagashima who won a bronze medal today.
One more medal so far after two days for Europe compared to last year. Nine against eight in 2010 with the same categories and one more final spot.
Follow the event tomorrow again: