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Assmaa Niang gets energy from home Grand Prix
Assmaa Niang gets energy from home Grand Prix
10 Mar 2018 19:45
by Mark Pickering - IJF
JudoHeroes

She was at home and she did not disappoint her fans! The second day of the Agadir Grand Prix ended with the victory of Assmaa Niang who, in front of her public, won a magnificent gold medal, full of authority and emotion.

If Niang was among the favourites on the morning of the big day, she found in the final Maria Perez (PUR), the vice-world champion of Budapest 2017, a reference in the category. It took only a handful of seconds for the fate of this long-awaited final to be sealed, since the athlete from Puerto Rico made an error which made her penalised with a Hansokumake (direct disqualification). Assmaa, 35, could let her joy burst out and enter into communion with the audience, who was waiting for her champion on the top of the podium.

The young woman, who, after her semi-final against Anka Pogacnik (SLO), had come out of the tatami completely exhausted, trying to find behind the scene, a second breath, said at the end of the final: "I am so happy to have won the Agadir Grand Prix at home. I want to thank the Moroccan public who has been my strength today. I have a thought for all the other Moroccan athletes who showed their bravery during these first two days of competition. Moroccan judo is progressing and young people are my deep inspiration. Today I have the age of my goals and my dreams are my energy."

The first bronze medal contest opposed the Swiss Alina Lengweiler and the Tashkent Grand Prix bronze medallist Anka Pogacnik (SLO). Both athletes were not halfway to the end yet, but Pogacnik had already scored a first waza-ari followed with an immobilisation but not enough to score ippon, and Lengweiler penalised twice. A few seconds later, Pogacnik scored again with the same technique (harai-makikomi) for a clear victory and one more medal for Slovenia.

In the second bronze medal contest, Szaundra Diedrich (GER) faced the Tunis Grand Prix silver medallist, Roxane Taeymans (BEL). Just before the last two minutes, the Belgian was penalised twice within a few seconds only as she was pushing down her opponent without building positive judo, then was holding the judogi of Diedrich on the same side without immediately attacking. Diedrich definitely took the advantage as she scored a waza-ari with a o-uchi-gari almost perfectly executed. The German could keep that score until the end to win her fifth medal in a Grand Prix.

Slovenia still dominates the medal table, with now two titles since Andreja Leski won the gold medal of the U63kg. It is also interesting to underline Katharina Haecker's magnificent silver medal, which allows Australia to enter for the first time in a final of the world circuit.