The Ukrainians claimed the first ever mixed team gold at the 2019 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Judo and Goalball International Qualifier in Fort Wayne, USA, on Friday (5 July) as the event made its debut at an IBSA Judo competition.
Teams from eight countries competed in the historic event, including Paralympic, world and regional medallists in their line-ups.
Ukraine advanced past China 4-2 and then Brazil 4-1 to reach the gold medal match against the USA.
Paralympic bronze medallist Yuliya Halinska opened Ukraine’s final contest with a win against Cynthia Page in the women’s up to 52kg.
They then went 2-0 up after up European title holder Davyd Khorava beat Ronald Alex Hawthorne in the men’s up to 66kg.
World and Paralympic champion Inna Cherniak reached ippon after holding Liana Mutia down in the women’s up to 63kg.
Rufat Mahomedov sealed gold for the US with his win over Adnan Gutic to take the Ukraine to four wins and end the contest.
Anastasiia Harnyk and Olesandr Nazarenko therefore did not need to get out of their seats to face the USA’s Kate Lee Davis and Benjamin Goodrich the women’s up to 63kg and over 81kg respectively.
Halinska was happy to add a team gold to the bronze she had won in the up to 48kg on Wednesday:
“To win the first gold medal is a great feeling, it’s perfect.”
The USA were also happy to take an historic silver medal at home:
“I think everybody feels good that we were able to get a medal as a team, show that we have some good judo, some good techniques, some strong competitors that are out there to fight,” Goodrich said. “We had some tough matches yesterday, but today we had a good showing so I think we’re very happy with that.”
Brazil were the first team to claim bronze after they faced Thailand.
Giulia Pereira, Thiego Marques, Lucia Araujo, Harlley Damiao Pereira Arruda, Rebeca Silva and Arthur Cavalcante Da Silva stepped onto the podium.
China then beat Spain 4-1 for the second bronze thanks to great performances from Yue Wang and Yurong Wu in the women’s up to 63kg and men’s up to 63kg, respectively.
Wang overcame Spain’s Marta Arce Payno with a fantastic throw for ippon. Wu also gained an ippon after he held Luis Daniel Gavilan on the mat.
The full Chinese team to receive bronze include Paralympic champion Li Liqing, Jinxin Ma, world title-holder Hongyu Wang, Song Wang, Wang and Wu.
The mixed team event – which is not on the Paralympic programme – marked the end of three days of competition in Fort Wayne. Judoka fought for individual world ranking points towards qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
The penultimate day of pool play delivered more intense action as well as places in the quarter finals for countries with matches to spare.
The USA women headline the teams who will advance having so far gone unbeaten in group Y. Their latest victory came with a 9-1 win over Finland at the Turnstone Centre.
Canada, Finland, Ukraine and Greece will all play for survival in the tournament on Saturday (6 July).
In group X Israel and China are still level at the top on 15 points each, with Israel leading on goal difference.
They got their day underway well with a 9-0 win over Australia before overcoming Spain 10-0 in the afternoon.
China meanwhile beat Germany 6-3 to win their fifth game in a row.
With the top four teams from each group securing a quarter-final spot, Australia and Great Britain will also advance.
Recovering from their loss to Israel, Australia bagged three points with a 6-1 win over South Korea. Great Britain beat Germany 9-3 to move to the knockout stages.
In the men’s China top pool B but the USA, Ukraine and South Korea are also through to the quarter-finals.
South Korea lost to 11-4 to China but had done enough in their earlier games to hold on to a top four position in the group.
The USA’s record on Friday featured a 14-5 win over South Korea and a 5-5 draw with Spain.
Ukraine lost 6-3 to China but picked themselves up later in the day to finish 5-5 against Finland.
In pool A Turkey and reigning Paralympic champions Lithuania go through. Turkey overcame Argentina 9-5 whilst Lithuania squeezed past Greece 8-5.
The other two quarter final places are firmly up for grabs in the group with a potential four teams – Argentina, Czech Republic, Sweden and Canada all needing wins on the final day of pool play on Saturday (6 July).
Sweden kept their campaign going after successfully protesting the result of their 8-7 loss to Czech Republic. The outcome meant they replayed the last 17.3 seconds of the match.
Fatmir Seremeti found the back of the net to end the game 7-7 and hand Sweden one point to keep their hopes in the competition alive.
The 2019 IBSA Goalball and Judo International Qualifier features 13 women’s teams and 14 men’s teams. The gold and silver medallists from Fort Wayne 2019 will punch their tickets to Tokyo 2020.
Judoka from around the world also competed to improve their place in the world rankings towards qualification.
The competition is being shown live at the IBSA Goalball and Judo Facebook pages and IBSA’s YouTube channel.
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