IJF News - 23 January, 2016

Havana Grand Prix 2016 - Cuba



Women: -63kg | -70kg 

Men: -73kg | -81kg  





After a strong first day full of emotions and spectacular judo, where team Brazil showed that it had entered the final phase of preparation for ‘its’ Olympic Games, there were four new weight categories and 124 athletes engaged today in the Sports City Coliseum for the second day of the second Grand Prix in Havana, Cuba.


Once again just before the start of the final block the Cuban Judo Federation celebrated its famous coach, Ronaldo Veitia Valdivie, who officially retired from his impressive career as the head coach of the female Cuban national team. In his path through judo, ‘Ronaldo’ as every one fondly called him, achieved outstanding results. He coached at six Olympic Games from 1992 to 2012 and obtained 5 gold, 9 silver and 10 bronze medals. During the same period, he guided his athletes to 16 gold, fourteen silver and twenty seven bronze medals at the Senior World Championships. Mr. Veitia was also the successful coach of the Cuban team at many other international events including the World Team Championships and University and Pan-American competitions. This is without counting the numerous medals won in the other age categories, making him the coach with the largest number of Olympic medals in the history of judo.



Several of his athletes received prizes and were awarded as the most outstanding and technical athletes. Mr. Ronaldo Veitia is a eighth dan and today, surrounded by all of his athletes, he received the recognition of the Cuban sports movement. After having been awarded yesterday by the IJF President, Mr. Marius Vizer, and for his relevant contribution to the Cuban Judo School which allowed him to achieve all his results, Ronaldo Veitia was presented with a special award, signed by PhD Antonio Becali Garrido, President of INDER. The award was given by Jorge Polo Vazquez, INDER Vice-President. Then the legendary coach was also awarded by the Cuban Judo Federation and by the Pan-American Judo Confederation’s President, Mr. Manuel Larranaga.




Please use #judoHavana2016 as often as possible in all your communications


-63kg: Gerbi Does Not Shake in Havana

The first final of the day opposed the 2013 World Champion and top seeded athlete of the category, Yarden GERBI of Israel, who once again showed her explosiveness to overcome all of her opponents during the preliminary rounds and Maricet ESPINOSA (CUB), bronze medallist at the Qingdao Grand Prix 2015. If GERBI was not able to every time score ippon, she was never really in danger and successively defeated Isabel PUCHE (ESP), Maylin DEL TORO CARVAJAL (CUB) and Ekaterina VALKOVA (RUS). The story was not that successful for the other favourites of the competition who were all eliminated earlier during the competition. Some of them succeeded to enter the final block though in order to fight for at least a bronze medal.


The temperature of the stadium significantly increased as the two athletes entered the arena. In front of her public, ESPINOSA had the possibility to keep one gold medal on Cuban soil. The first attack came from GERBI, but it was perfectly blocked by the Cuban. A few seconds later, the public exploded with big hurrahs as ESPINOSA launched a powerful attack but for no score. Perfectly controlling the fight, Gerbi finally placed one of her preferred technique to score a waza-ari. World champion three years ago, Yarden GERBI remains one of the favourites for the Olympic title next summer in Rio de Janeiro.



Yarden Gerbi said: “I have been waiting for this feeling of winning gold since 2014 and this is too long for me. It feels great. I’m not at my best right now, but it’s important to win even when you are not at your best. Every time I think of the Olympics, I have the butterflies and this is my dream.“


The first bronze medal contest of the day opposed the silver medalist of the 2014 Zagreb Grand Prix, Mia HERMANSSON (SWE), and the silver medalist of the 2014 Pan-American Championship, Estefania GARCIA (ECU). After the four minutes of regular time, both athletes were penalised with two shidos. It was time for the golden score, which was clearly won by Mia HERMANSSON with a superb uchi-mata for ippon.


In the second bronze medal fight, Pari SURAKATOVA (RUS), silver medallist in Budapest last year, faced her teammate, Ekaterina VALKOVA (RUS), who concluded her season last year with a beautiful bronze medal in Tokyo. Half way to the end, both athletes were penalised with a shido for false attack. At the beginning of the last minute, SURAKATOVA was penalised a second time giving a small advantage to her opponent, VALKOVA, which she kept until the final gong for a place on the podium.


GERBI, Yarden (ISR) vs. ESPINOSA, Maricet (CUB)


Bronze Medal Fights
HERMANSSON, Mia (SWE) vs. GARCIA, Estefania (ECU)
SURAKATOVA, Pari (RUS) vs. VALKOVA, Ekaterina (RUS)



Final Results
1. GERBI, Yarden (ISR)
2. ESPINOSA, Maricet (CUB)
3. VALKOVA, Ekaterina (RUS)
5. GARCIA, Estefania (ECU)
7. ZOUAK, Rizlen (MAR)


-70kg: BOLDER Doubles the Score for Israel

Imitating her famous teammate from the -63kg weight category, Linda BOLDER (ISR) was also able to enter the final of the day in the women’s -70kg division. In the final she was opposed to a young athlete with a terrific potential as GERCSAK Szabina (HUN) is the current Junior World Champion and winner of the last edition of the Youth Olympic Games, which were held in Nanjing in 2014. No matter what the result of the final would be, this was the first appearance of GERCSAK at that level in the senior division. There is no doubt that she has the potential to become one of the favourites for a senior world title and an Olympic title in the future.


After less than 10 seconds, BOLDER dropped on her knees in a kata-guruma attempt but for no score even if it lifted GERCSAK's feet off the tatami. It was then the Hungarian turned to execute an ample uchi-mata, but without the control of the sleeve, this technique was not successful either. After an interesting ground work session, BOLDER could pin down her opponent but only for a second, not enough to take the lead. A little less active than her opponent, the Israeli was penalised with a shido. But a few seconds later it was GERCSAK to receive a penalty for stepping outside of the fighting area. Having started with a kata-guruma technique BOLDER concluded with the same but this time for a yuko which gave her the victory and a second gold medal for Israel on the occasion of this second day of the Havana Grand Prix 2016.



Linda Bolder declared: “The spirit in the team is very strong. We had a silver yesterday and two golds today. We feel really positive for this year.“


For the first bronze medal fight, team Brazil again entered one of its athletes in the final block, as Maria PORTELA, bronze medallist last December in Tokyo faced Barbara MATIC of Croatia, who was the second top seeded athlete of the category. Disqualified earlier during the competition MATIC could not compete due to a hansokumake and therefore PORTELA added one more bronze to the Brazilian prize list in Cuba.


Silver medallist at the Asian Championships last year, Gulnoza MATNIYAZOVA (UZB), confirmed that she is consistent and that she can regularly reach the final block of a major World Judo Tour event. With a bronze medal at the Baku Grand Slam, last year, Marie Eve GAHIE (FRA) was MATNIYAZOVA’s contender for a place on the podium. The athletes entered the last minute, with a yuko advantage to the French, which she confirmed with a waza-ari after she counterattacked a missed drop-seoi-nage from MATNIYAZOVA. With less than 20 seconds left on the scoreboard, the Uzbek had to take some risks, which gave the opportunity to GAHIE to conclude the match with a clear ippon with another counterattack.


BOLDER, Linda (ISR) vs. GERCSAK, Szabina (HUN)


Bronze Medal Fights
PORTELA, Maria (BRA) vs. MATIC, Barbara (CRO)
MATNIYAZOVA, Gulnoza (UZB) vs. GAHIE, Marie Eve (FRA)



Final Results
1. BOLDER, Linda (ISR)
2. GERCSAK, Szabina (HUN)
3. GAHIE, Marie Eve (FRA)
3. PORTELA, Maria (BRA)
5. MATIC, Barbara (CRO)
7. GAZIEVA, Irina (RUS)
7. PENNALVER, Melisa (CUB)


-73kg: Good Day for the World Number One ORUJOV

With his world number one ranking, and therefore the top seed position in Havana, Rustam ORUJOV (AZE) was the ultimate favourite of the competition and with no surprise he qualified for the final of the day in the -73kg weight division. Winner of the Grand Slam in Baku last year, ORUJOV faced the 2013 World bronze medallist, Victor SCVORTOV (UAE), who once again showed his positive fighting spirit, especially after he surged past Pierre DUPRAT from France in the semi-final within a minute. Throughout the preliminary rounds, SCVORTOV only once fought until the end of the regular time. All his other bouts were won by ippon.


With a subtile ko-soto-gari, SCVORTOV was the first one to put his opponent in danger but for no score. A few seconds later, he once again was the first to attack, but this time for yuko. Very opportunistic, always moving, SCVORTOV seemed to dominate the fight, but with a counterattack, ORUJOV did more than reduce the score, as he took a strong lead with a waza-ari, which was enough to secure the victory and a more dominant world number one position.



The first bronze medal contest opposed the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Slam silver medallist, Igor WANDTKE (GER), and Pierre DUPRAT (FRA), who looks as the best French qualification option for the Games so far, as he is regularly present on the podium of international events. After one minute, WANDTKE was penalised with a first shido just before DUPRAT could score a first yuko to take a significant lead. The final results looked secured in the hands of the French, when WANDTKE engaged a powerful sumi-gaeshi for waza-ari which he immediately followed with an immobilisation for ippon. There was less than a minute left to fight.


In the second bronze medal fight of the day, Sami CHOUCHI (BEL), who failed two times at the bottom of the podium last year, qualified against GANBAATAR Odbayar (MGL), bronze medalist on the occasion of the Asian Games in 2015. After a rough fight and with two shido given to his opponent, GANBAATAR could win the bronze medal.


Other favourites were launching their 2016 sports season in Cuba but they were less successful. Thus UNGVARI Miklos (HUN) and Musa MOGUSHKOV (RUS), were among the early eliminated athletes of the competition. But there are still several events before the end of the Olympic qualification process and for sure they will have other chances to collect the precious points.


ORUJOV, Rustam (AZE) vs. SCVORTOV, Victor (UAE)


Bronze Medal Fights
WANDTKE, Igor (GER) vs. DUPRAT, Pierre (FRA)
CHOUCHI, Sami (BEL) vs. GANBAATAR, Odbayar (MGL)



Final Results
1. ORUJOV, Rustam (AZE)
2. SCVORTOV, Victor (UAE)
3. GANBAATAR, Odbayar (MGL)
3. WANDTKE, Igor (GER)
5. CHOUCHI, Sami (BEL)
5. DUPRAT, Pierre (FRA)
7. NARTEY, Emmanuel (GHA)
7. REGIS, Andrea (ITA)



-81kg: Number One Seeded KHALMURZAEV Tops the Podium


The last final of the day opposed top seeded athlete and world number eight, Khasan KHALMURZAEV (RUS) and an old face of the international circuit, the American Travis STEVENS, fifth on the occasion of the last Olympic Games in London. Despite a beautiful continental title last year obtained on the occasion of the Pan-American Games in Toronto, STEVENS had kind of a year off from the international podiums through a run of injuries. This place in the final puts him back on the list of the Olympic medallist favourites in a weight category which counts an impressive number of world class judoka such as Avtandili TCHRIKISHVILI (GEO), Takanori NAGASE (JPN), Antoine VALOIS-FORTIER (CAN) and Loïc PIETRI (FRA).


With a superb action-reaction movement on the edge of the fighting area, KHALMURZAEV scored a first waza-ari at the beginning of the bout. For the rest of the match, KHALMURZAEV mainly controlled STEVENS to secure the victory.



The first bronze medal contest saw the winner of the 2014 Tashkent Grand Prix, Roman MOUSTOPOULOS (GRE) opposed to Sven MARESCH (GER), who was the second top seeded competitor here in Havana. MARESCH received the first penalty for a false attack. Then MOUSTOPOULOS scored a first yuko with a counterattack. While MOUSTOPOULOS was also penalised once, MARESCH received two extra shidos putting him in the danger zone, one shido away from the hansokumake. But the victory finally went to the Greek even if he was penalised again for passivity.


The second bronze medal bout featured world number 17, CSOKNYAI Laszlo (HUN) and 2015 Tyuman Grand Slam bronze medallist, Alexander WIECZERZAK (GER). The first left handed o-soto-gari from WIECZERZAK was unsuccessful. Then the fight resumed into a tough battle to get the strongest grip, when CSOKNYAI was capable of counterattacking twice the German’s attacks for a waza-ari-awasete-ippon and a bronze medal.




Bronze Medal Fights
CSOKNYAI, Laszlo (HUN) vs. WIECZERZAK, Alexander (GER)



Final Results
2. STEVENS, Travis (USA)
3. CSOKNYAI, Laszlo (HUN)
5. MARESCH, Sven (GER)
5. WIECZERZAK, Alexander (GER)
7. ALIMLI, Rustam (AZE)
7. SILVA MORALES, Ivan Felipe (CUB)



DAY3 - Sunday January 24

9:00 preliminaries on 2 tatami
17:00 final block on 1 tatami


Women: -78kg, +78kg

Men: -90kg, -100kg, +100kg


Location: Sport City Coliseum, Havana, Cuba

IJF Media & Communications Department

Nicolas Messner, IJF Media Director

Mark Pickering, IJF Media Manager 


Photos ©  IJF Media by G. Sabau, Nicolas Messner



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