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Mexico celebrates Grand Prix gold for Luz Olvera
17 Jun 2017 02:30
Pan American Championships silver medallist Luz Olvera of Mexico was the hero for Mexico as she won her country’s first IJF Grand Prix gold medal. The world number 38 from Mexico defeated the world number 35 from Brazil, Sarah Menezes, to secure Mexico’s best ever result in judo as the home judoka was lifted by the fervent home support to deliver a thrilling performance which was full of heart.
Menezes, 27, who moved up from U48kg to U52kg in February, has fifth and seventh-place finishes to show from three outings at Grand Slams this year in Paris, Baku and Ekaterinburg, and has gradually made up ground to settle into life in her new category. Chants of ‘Mexico, Mexico’, rang out around the venue as the contest moved into golden score and London 2012 Olympic champion at U48kg Menezes was penalised for a third time for a false attack to receive hansoku-make and Olvera lapped up the loudest ovation of the tournament so far as Cancun celebrated a defining moment for Mexican judo.
In the first semi-final Abu Dhabi Grand Slam silver medallist Angelica Delgado (USA) was outlasted by Olvera who threw the American with a determined uchi-mata after two and a half minutes of golden score for a waza-ari. In the second semi-final Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist Odette Giuffrida (ITA) – who was preparing for the competition on the beaches of Cancun with her uchi-komi bands – lost out to Menezes by a waza-ari which came from a seoi-nage.
The first bronze medal was clinched by Giuffrida in her first IJF competition since the Olympic Games. The Italian judoka beat Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Anja Stangar (SLO) as she outmaneuvered her Slovenian opponent to throw with a ko-soto-gari for ippon with just one second left on the clock. A sixth Grand Prix medal for Giuffrida gives the Rome-based judoka the platform to push on and stake her claim for a first World Championships medal in August.
The second bronze medal was won by world number 10 Delgado who recovered from her semi-final defeat to make her top seed status count with a victory over Tashkent Grand Prix bronze medallist Tena Sikic. Delgado, whose sole previous appearance on a Grand Prix podium came in her opponent’s homeland last year, won her second Grand Prix bronze medal by a waza-ari score to win USA’s second medal on day one in Mexico.
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