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Nemanja Majdov surprises the world with first Serbian world title
1 Sep 2017 21:15
Serbia started the day with their greatest opportunity to realise their dream of crowning a world judo champion but instead of world number one Aleksandar Kukolj it was a 21-year-old Worlds debutant who ruled the sport. World number 23 and double Junior European Champion Nemanja Majdov was the first shock finalist in the U90kg category and was then joined by world number 14 Mihael Zgank (SLO).
Serbia had never won a world title while Slovenia had never won a world medal from their men’s team and both of those facts changed after the contest. Zgank, 23, was penalised in golden score with a shido for ducking under the forward movement of Majdov which decided the fate of the world and created history for both judoka and both nations.
In the first semi-final European champion Kukolj was surpassed by Zgank in golden score by a waza-ari score from a ko-uchi-gari.
In the second semi-final Majdov bested former world silver medallist and former junior level rival Toth Krisztian (HUN). The Hungarian hope was thrown with a drop seoi-nage for a waza-ari after 90 seconds of added time and the reactions of both judoka could not have been more different. Despite his immense disappointment and in front of his family, friends and compatriots, Toth, showed what it means to be a judoka as he raised the hand of his conqueror and in act of incredible sportsmanship as he did when he lost the 2014 World Championships final to Ilias Iliadis (GRE).
In the first bronze medal contest Toth suffered a second agonising defeat as he fell to 2015 world champion Gwak Donghan (KOR). The South Korean judoka scored a waza-ari with 25 seconds left on the clock as he turned an uchi-mata into an o-uchi-gari to silence the home crowd. Toth left the field of play with sadness but clapped the crowd for their support today and he will be back to compete for world medals for years to come.
In the second bronze medal contest Kukolj could not salvage a place on the podium as world number 19 and two-time Grand Slam silver medallist Ushangi Margiani (GEO) won his first World Championships medal. Two waza-ari scores from two ura-nage gave the Georgian control of the contest and he saw off the remaining seconds to medal in Georgia’s favourite and most successful weight category.
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Margot Wetzer (NED)