Abu Dhabi: The Netherlands’ Juul Franssen registered a hard-fought win over Slovenia’s Andreja Leski in the women’s -63kg category at the Abu Dhabi Judo Grand Slam at the Mubadala Arena on Sunday.
The contest lasted for a good eight minutes and 36 seconds and it was Franssen’s second title in two outings here in the UAE. She had last won gold in 2016. “It doesn’t matter how long the fight was but the win matters,” said an exhausted but elated Franssen, revealing that Leski attempted a throw and that allowed her to pull the latter over.
“The first fight was hard as it was more challenging mentally than physically but we grew into the tournament. The final was a hard one but I’m glad we managed to win the gold,” said Franssen, who will be heading to Grand Slam of Osaka and Guangzhou Masters in China.
“I want to be there in Osaka and, hopefully, do well there. If I can finish off well in Gaungzhou Masters in China, then nothing like it. Yes these are my next two goals.”
Tina Trstenjak of Slovenia, Olympic champion and bronze medallist at the Worlds, had to settle for a bronze in the repechage after beating Austrian Magdalena Krssakova. In the other bronze medal contest, Agata Ozdoba-Blach of Poland, who defeated Trstenjak, lost out to Australian Katharina Haecker.
Margaux Pinot of France clinched gold in the women’s 70kg, beating Germany’s Miriam Gerbutkereit. The bronze was claimed by Giovanna Gerscoccimarro of Germany, who defeated Great Britain’s Sally Conway. The second bronze in the same category was bagged by Austria’s Michaela Autpolleres, beating Spain’s Maria Bernabeu in 1:52seconds.
The UAE’s Asian Games bronze medallist, Victor Scvortov, crashed out early in the -73kg category. The Moldovan-born UAE judoka was knocked out in round two to Austrian Lukas Reiter in 1minute 43 seconds. Scvortov’s first round win had come against German Lujas Vennekold in three and-a-half minutes. The title in the category was won by Georgia’s Lasha Shavdatuashvili.
The UAE’s hopes of a medal now rests on Sergiu Toma, the bronze medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Toma will be meeting Yahor Varapayeu of Belarus in the first round of the 90kg category. If he wins that contest, he will be meeting Islam Bozbeyev of Kazakhstan and Mohammad Eisa Ennaas of Libya in the second round.
There is another medal hope in the same category for UAE in Mihail Marchitan, another Moldovan-born judoka. He is in the top half of the draw and has a tough opponent in Ekaterinburg Grand Slam winner and top-seeded Serbian Aleksandar Kukolj in the first round. In the 100kg category, Ivan Remarenco will be leading UAE medal hope as he takes on Philipp Galandi of Germany in the first round.
In the +100kg, the one to watch out for on the final day is Olympic champion Lukas Krpalek of the Czech Republic, who won the Cancun Grand Prix last time out after a disappointing fifth-place finish at the World Championships last month. The World No. 2 Krpalek will start his day in the second round of the heavyweight category against Galymzhan Krikbay of Kazakhstan.