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British men shine as Max Stewart claims first IJF Grand Prix
20 Nov 2016 17:15
British Max Stewart turned his number one seed status into gold for Great Britain on Sunday with the best performance of his blossoming career. Stewart, 23, defeated Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix silver medallist Gantulga Altanbagana from Mongolia and rushed to embrace with his coach and dad Dennis Stewart (GBR) who won bronze at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. Finally the British men can shine again on the world podium.
Stewart, Glasgow European Open winner, tangled with Gantulga for the first time and captured his maiden Grand Prix title by way of shime-waza after finding a route out of the initial hold down from the Briton.
Stewart said: “I was always looking for the strangle in the final and I had the perfect chance after my first hold down. I’m getting used to fighting at these bigger events and I hope for more competitions and more success in 2017. My next event will be the British Championships in December.”
In the first semi-final Stewart, who held down highly-rated Tenri University recruit Odkhuu Tsetsentsengel (MGL) with a tate-shiho-gatame in his quarter-final, submitted Jeon Chan (KOR) with shime-waza after an expertly controlled turnover. In the second semi-final Gantulga defeated former Taipei Asian Open bronze medallist Lee Jaeyong (KOR) by a waza-ari to guarantee the second Grand Prix medal of his career.
The first bronze medal was awarded to rank outsider Said Emi Zhambekov (RUS) who threw Lee with a sumi-gaeshi for ippon with two minutes remaining. World number 133 Zhambekov seized his opportunity as he won the first medal contest on the last day of the Qingdao Grand Prix 2016. The second bronze medal went to beaten semi-finalist Jeon who routed Erihemubatu (CHN) with four unanswered scores to the delight of his South Korean teammates in the stands. Jeon opened his account with a waza-ari from a drop seoi-nage after 40 seconds before adding a yuko from a left-sided seoi-nage. A shell-shocked Erihemubatu was then thrown for a yuko with a right-handed seoi-nage before being put out of his misery by ippon from a morote-seoi-nage.
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