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Chizuru Arai meets the Japanese expectations with world title
1 Sep 2017 20:00
Japanese Arai Chizuru will bring a red backpatch home after winning her first World Championships gold medal with a professional performance that saw her overcome Olympic medallists and surprise packages. Normal business was resumed as Japan had one more gold medallist among their ranks in the form of the 23-year-old who bested Maria Perez of Puerto Rico in the final.
Arai, who had won both of their previous meetings in 2013 and 2015, won one of her five contests by the maximum score and that was the gold medal contest as Perez had to tap out to the neatly-worked shime-waza of the Japanese. While the red backpatch joins the gold backpatch of the Rio 2016 Olympic champion Tachimoto Haruka in Japan, Puerto Rico had their greatest ever day on the tatami as Perez took Worlds silver.
In the first semi-final 34-year-old former Düsseldorf Grand Prix winner Assmaa Niang (MAR) lost out to Perez – who had never won an IJF event – by a waza-ari in golden score. Morocco and Puerto Rico were unfancied semi-finalists and both had hopes of winning their country’s first world judo title. It was the Pan American who prevailed in the last four stage on a memorable day for her continent.
In the second semi-final Tokyo Grand Slam winner Arai Chizuru (JPN) edged past Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist and three-time world champion Yuri Alvear (COL) by a waza-ari score from a stalling uchi-mata.
In the first bronze medal contest Alvear had too much quality and experience for European Championships bronze medallist and World Championships debutant Marie Eve Gahie (FRA). Alvear, 31, who was interviewed by CNN matside with Perez after the awarding ceremony, came from behind to throw her 20-year-old opponent with an osoto to ko-soto combination and secured her fifth world medal by pinning down her European opponent.
In the second bronze medal contest 2015 world silver medallist Maria Bernabeu (ESP) defeated Niang to register Spain’s first medal at the 2017 Suzuki World Judo Championships. A waza-ari score from the Spaniard put her in control and NIANG could not impose herself in the most important contest of her career as the Moroccan judoka picked up three shidos to finish fifth. After leaving the tatami Bernabeu ran into the crowd and jumped onto her teammates to celebrate before leaving the field of play.
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