A series of impressive ippons highlighted the first day of judo competition at the 2019 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Judo and Goalball International Qualifier in Fort Wayne, USA, on Wednesday (3 July).
The performances of some of the world’s best up-and-coming and more established athletes was a taste of things to come just over one year ahead of the next Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Romania’s Alex Bologa, the Paralympic bronze medallist, impressed with in the men’s up to 60kg.
Bologa, who at the age of just 22 has an incredibly bright future, faced Kazakhstan’s world champion Olzhas Orazalyuly. On paper Bologa was the underdog, but he expertly overhauled Orazalyuly to claim ippon.
“I was very happy to win here, especially after the World Championships [where I missed the podium] and I am happy to collect some points for Tokyo 2020,” Bologa said. “I am looking forward to go to Tokyo and get a better medal, if it’s possible. I would like to be the Paralympic champion but I would like one more medal whatever it is.”
In the bronze medal matches, China’s Xu Zhao and Kazakhstan’s Anuar Sariyev both won their fights to step onto the podium.
Germany’s Nikolai Kornhass built on his amazing bronze medal winning IBSA Judo World Championships debut from November in the men’s up to 73kg.
Kornhass executed what could have been the best throw of the day to achieve ippon against Kazakhstan’s Temirzhan Daulet.
“I had a good performance today, I think. I showed good judo and had no big mistakes. I think I did my best today,” Kornhass said.
Complimenting Daulet on his judo the German went on to say: “He [Daulet] is physically strong and he can change his way of fighting from right-handed to left-handed so it’s difficult.
At the beginning I - not really struggled - but had to come into the fight and then it went well!”
Spain’s Alvaro Gavilan Lorenzo and Ukraine’s Rufat Mahomedov rounded off the podium.
It was a battle of the Paralympic champions in the women’s up to 48kg gold medal match.
France’s Sandrine Martinet, continuing to compete in one weight category lower than Rio 2016 where she won gold, faced China’s Li Liqing.
The fight lived up to its billing as both women showed their quality. But it was Martinet who was back to her best having missed out on first place at the Worlds.
An exceptional throw from the Frenchwoman was met with gasps from the crowd and saw her gain an ippon score to overcome Paralympic title-holder Li.
The bronze medal match between Chinese Taipei’s Kai Lin Lee and Ukraine’s Rio 2016 bronze medallist Yuliya Halinska was an intense affair. But it was Halinska who emerged the victor with ippon.
Turkey’s Ecem Tasin, also a third place finisher from Rio 2016, won her bronze medal fight against Japan’s Shizuka Hangai.
Ukraine’s world and Paralympic champion Inna Cherniak went toe-to-toe with Canada’s Worlds bronze medallist Priscilla Gagne in the women’s up to 52kg. It was Cherniak who was victorious.
Japan’s Yui Fujiwara and China’s Yanqing Lee left with bronze.
Turkish world champion Zeynep Celik met Japan’s Junko Hirose again in the women’s up to 57kg in a rematch of the World Championships final.
It was once again Celik who emerged on top as she managed an ippon against Hirose.
Brazilian teammates Lucia Araujo and Maria Dos Santos Lins completed the podium in third.
Mongolia’s Munkhbat Aaajim won gold against Spain’s Sergio Ibanez in the men’s up to 66kg.
Georgia’s Worlds bronze medallist Giorgi Gamjashvilli picked up the same colour again in Fort Wayne. Ukraine’s Davyd Khorava joined him on the podium.
Pool play continued at both Indiana Tech and the Turnstone Centre on Wednesday.
In the men’s, the US bounced back from their opening game defeat against Ukraine 24 hours earlier as they played two games in one day. First up was an 11-4 win over Finland, followed in the afternoon with a 16-6 victory against Poland.
Josh Welbourn said: “I’m excited to keep moving forward with this momentum. Keep doing what we’re doing and looking forward to playing great goalball with these guys.”
Argentina continued their winning run with an 11-8 score over Canada as they aim to qualify for their first Paralympic Games. In contrast, Canada have competed at 10 Paralympics including the last edition in 2016.
Ukraine, also in the running for a Paralympic debut, beat South Korea 10-6.
Paralympic champions Lithuania notched their second victory against Czech Republic 13-4.
Hosts the USA had more success in the women’s. A 9-2 triumph over Canada saw them strengthen their position in group Y.
Paralympic silver medallists China played twice on Wednesday and won both their games against Australia (5-1) and Great Britain (7-1).
Full results from day two can be found at: www.ibsafortwayne2019.com
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 are also competing 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.