Croatian heavyweight Helena Vukovic is one of the outstanding talents in her category but didn’t have a dominating season so far. Vukovic kept the best for last and took the victory in the +70kg category at the Cadet World Championships in Santiago de Chile. The small town of Samobor now hosts Cadet European Lara Cvjetko and world champion Helena Vukovic, Samobor is a good town for breeding judo talent.
Vukovic is successor of Karla Prodan, the Croatian who won the world cadet title U70kg in 2015. After Barbara and Brigita Matic who both won World Junior gold, she is the fourth Croatian to win a World title.
Vukovic was Five-time Cadet European Cup winner and missed out on silverware at the Cadet European Championships and the European Youth Olympic Festival recently but saved her best performance. EYOF and Cadet European Championships winner Sophio Somkhishvili of Georgia was stopped just short of winning Georgia’s first women’s world judo title as her Croatian opponent threw with a right-sided uchi-mata for a gold medal-winning after 83 seconds of golden score. Vukovic may have done enough to earn a place at the Junior World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia, in October.
In the first semi-final Somkhishvili surpassed Junior African Championships silver medallist Fatma Abidi (TUN) as the latter picked up three shidos due to her inferior workrate and was disqualified. In the second semi-final Vukovic defeated 17-year-old Cadet European Championships bronze medallist Hanna Rollwage (GER) with a textbook uchi-mata.
The first bronze medal was claimed by 17-year-old Cadet Pan American Championships winner Luiza CRUZ (BRA) who momentarily dented Germany’s medal trail by beating Rollwage by ippon. Cruz comes from Brazilan legend Flavio Canto's famed Institute in Rio for deprived children which also produced Rio 2016 Olympic champion Rafaela Silva (BRA).
The second bronze medal contest was won by one-time Cadet European Cup winner Yonekawa Akiho who outworked Abidi. Three shidos for passivity against the Tunisian judoka settled the medal contest as Japan added more honours to their plentiful medal collection.