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World number one Aleksandar Kukolj completes Grand Slam hat-trick

18 Mar 2018 16:05

 by Mark Pickering - IJF    IJF Media Team / International Judo Federation
20180319_ekaterinburg_ijf_final_90_kukolj_aleksandar_varapayeu_yahor

World number one Aleksandar Kukolj of Serbia started his season with gold on Sunday to tighten his grip of the U90kg category. The Serbian judoka scored twice without reply against unexpected finalist and Tashkent Grand Prix bronze medallist Yahor Varapayeu of Belarus, who was the winner of the European Open in Minsk, a good indication of his strength

Kukolj, 26, held down his 21-year-old opponent, who earned his first Grand Slam medal, for 10 seconds for a match-winning second waza-ari score and looks ready to defend his European Championships title in April.

In the first semi-final Kukolj pinned Tunis Grand Prix bronze medallist David Klammert (CZE) to win by waza-ari-awasette-ippon. In the second semi-final Zagreb Grand Prix bronze medallist Nicholas Mungai (ITA) was second best against Varapayeu who sealed a place in the final by a waza-ari score which was the only score of the contest.

The first bronze medal was won by Mungai who celebrated his first result at this level by conquering Oberwart European Open silver medallist Mihail Marchitan (UAE) by a waza-ari score. Marchitan, who was aiming to finally deliver Grand Slam honours at the 18th attempt, was caught with ashi-waza from the Italian who picked up where his teammates left of on day one as the European nation’s presence was again felt in Ekaterinburg.

The second bronze medal went to Düsseldorf Grand Slam bronze medallist Gantulga Altanbagana (MGL) who beat Klammert by waza-ari-awasette-ippon. The pick of the scores was the second waza-ari, a lightning quick modified kata-guruma, to add to Mongolia’s medal tally on the last day in Ekaterinburg.

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Related Judo Photos

  • Yahor Varapayeu (BLR) - European Championships U23 Podgorica (2017, MNE) - © Menno Lesterhuis
  • Aleksandar Kukolj (SRB), Yahor Varapayeu (BLR), Altanbagana Gantulga (MGL), Nicholas Mungai (ITA) - Grand Slam Ekaterinburg (2018, RUS) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation
  • Aleksandar Kukolj (SRB) - 2017 IJF World Ranking (2017, IJF) - © Mongolian JudoHeroes

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