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Maryna Slutskaya makes comeback with gold in Tunis

21 Jan 2018 17:55

   IJF Gabriela Sabau / International Judo Federation

Belarussian heavyweight Maryna Slutskaya made a successful comeback at the Grand Prix in Tunis capturing gold. Slutskaya got injured at home at the European Open in Minsk. She couldn’t compete at the World Championships in Budapest and took the time for a well times comeback. Today was the day and with success she claimed gold.

After 1 minute and thirty seconds where both athletes were observing each other, Souza launched a first weak attack that was immediately countered by Slutskaya for waza-ari. With less than a minute left Slutskaya was penalised for blocking her opponent. As the Brazilian was in action but missed her attack, the Belarus immediately controlled her and followed with a submission (shine-waza) for ippon.

The audience was expecting a lot from its champion, Nihel Cheikh Rouhou of Tunisia who at each appearance on the tatami, caused a roar of joy from the spectators. Unfortunately eliminated by the Brazilian Beatriz Souza, Nihel had to settle for a place in the bronze medal final. It was therefore Souza who entered the final where she was opposed to Slutskaya .

The first bronze medal saw two continental cup medalists, Galyna Tarasova (UKR) and Anzhela Gasparian (RUS) competing for a place on the podium. After 55 seconds, Tarasova received a first shido for passivity. Half way to the end, Tarasova counterattacked Gasparian for a waza-ari taking a strong lead. The Ukrainian entered the last minute with a second shido for passivity, reducing her advantage to the minimum as the third shido would give the victory to the Russian, but with a precise left-handed drop-seoi-nage, she scored the second waza-ari that gave her the victory just ten second before the end. This was the first Grand Prix medal for Tarasova.

But it is undoubtedly the second bronze medal contest that attracted all the Tunisian fans in the Palais des Sport, as the recent bronze medalist of the open world championships, Nihel Cheikh Rouhou (TUN) met on the road to the podium, the bronze medalist of the last Olympic Games, Anamari Velensek (SLO). As the Tunisian entered the venue, the public suddenly woke up to encourage her. After two minutes and as the public was also asking for it, a first shido was logically given to the Slovenian, as she was less active that her opponent. With 1 minute and 11 seconds left the second penalty was announced for Velensek. But it was then Nihel's turn to be penalised. With 20 seconds left she finally scored a waza-ari that made the public explode with happiness. Nihel Cheikh Rouhou controlled the rest of the match to win her seventh medal in a Grand Prix, the first one for Tunisia this year and once again as she announced retirement after the Rio Olympic Games, the Tunisian hero is still fit and a good chance of medal for the country.

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  • Maryna Slutskaya (BLR) - Grand Prix Tunis (2018, TUN) - © IJF Gabriela Sabau, International Judo Federation
  • Maryna Slutskaya (BLR) - Grand Prix Tunis (2018, TUN) - © IJF Gabriela Sabau, International Judo Federation
  • Beatriz Souza (BRA), Maryna Slutskaya (BLR), Galyna Tarasova (UKR), Nihel Cheikh Rouhou (TUN) - Grand Prix Tunis (2018, TUN) - © IJF Gabriela Sabau, International Judo Federation

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