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Guusje Steenhuis takes first major victory in Baku
10 May 2015 15:55
Qingdao Grand Prix silver medallist Guusje Steenhuis (NED) took her career to new heights as she improved on her 2014 bronze medal by taking gold with a scintillating display of heart and talent. The 22-year-old squared off against former world silver medallist Ogata Akari (JPN) in the -78kg final.
London 2012 Olympian Ogata has fallen out of favour in the Japanese team in recent times but reminded judo fans of her ability while STEENHUIS starred despite trailing to a yuko from an osoto-gari after 52 seconds. The Dutch fighter replied with a waza-ari from a strong harai-makikomi effort and went on to secure a fine gold medal and her maiden Grand Slam title.
In the first semi-final Zagreb Grand Prix bronze medallist Daria POGORZELEC (POL) lost out to OGATA who opened the scoring with a waza-ari from an osoto-gari and continued to press in ne-waza. OGATA trapped her Polish opponent in osaekomi and finally settled into a yoko-shiho-gatame for 15 seconds and a place in the final.
In the second semi-final STEENHUIS defeated Tbilisi Grand Prix bronze medallist Kerstin THIELE (GER). Dutch fighter STEENHUIS was reactive on the ground as she countered a tame attack with shime-waza and Olympic silver medallist THIELE was sent into the bronze medal contest.
The first bronze medal was won by Olympic champion Kayla HARRISON (USA) as THIELE was penalised twice in a scoreless contest. HARRISON suffered a surprise defeat to POGORZELEC in the quarter-finals and while the American’s appearance in the bronze medal contest might have been a rare sight, the reigning world bronze medallist continued her prolific medal spree on the World Judo Tour. HARRISON has won more medals on the IJF World Judo Tour since 2009 than any other judoka and long will that be expected to continue. The second bronze medal contest was won by the determined Pole POGORZELEC by a slender margin of one shido against Budapest Grand Prix winner Marhinde VERKERK (NED) as POGORZELEC continued her rise to -78kg notoriety.
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