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Kathrin Unterwurzacher back with Grand Prix gold
26 Mar 2016 19:00
In the final U63kg of the Grand Prix in Tbilisi Austrian Kathrin Unterwurzacher defeated three-time Grand Prix bronze medallist Gemma Howell of Great Britain to celebrate U63kg gold. Unterwurzacher, won gold in her very first competition of the 2016 campaign as the Austrian team look set to be a force to be reckoned with at Rio 2016.
The career of London 2012 Olympian Howell, 2 years older than Unterwurzacher, has stalled in recent years due to a run of recurrent injuries but the 2014 Zagreb Grand Prix bronze medallist revitalised her stock today by claiming a place in her first Grand Prix final. Unterwurzacher, the World number 10, came from a yuko deficit in her first meeting against the British judoka from Wolverhampton, to restore parity with a yuko of her own before trapping the Briton with a tate-shiho-gatame and Howell, who appeared to suffer a knee injury as she gingerly returned to her feet in the previous exchange, tapped out under insurmountable pressure from the Austrian.
In the first semi Howell shocked Tashkent Grand Prix winner Edwige Gwend of Italy as she took the lead with a yuko before securing her first Grand Prix final by holding down the Italian with a kesa-gatame for 20 seconds and ippon. In the second semi-final Unterwurzacher salvaged the contest with a stunning last-gasp rally against French Marielle Pruvost. Unterwurzacher led with a yuko before Pruvost went in front with a waza-ari. The Austrian team are known for their character and Unterwurzacher narrowly took the contest with a waza-ari as the duo entered the last 10 seconds.
The first bronze medal was won by Gwend against Qingdao Grand Prix bronze medallist Bak Jiyun (KOR). Gwend ensured Italy hit the medal trail on the second day as Bak could not impose herself in the contest and was penalised twice for passivity in a scoreless contest. The second bronze medal was claimed by the impressive Pruvost who dismissed former European bronze medallist Marta Labazina (RUS) by pinning her for 17 seconds and waza-ari and after losing control of the hold down the Frenchwoman cleverly maneuvered into a juji-gatame to force her opponent to submit. Pruvost who was 2009 Moscow Grand Slam winner, seems to be back in the scene with impressive results.
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