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Kosovo have a new star in Loriana Kuka
8 Apr 2018 18:10
Kosovo have unearthed another gem on the IJF World Judo Tour as 21-year-old uchi-mata specialist Loriana Kuka wasted no time in making her presence felt at the top level with an eye-catching victory at U78kg at the Grand Prix in Antalya.
Anastasiya Turchyn of the Ukraine opposed Kuka in the final in Antalya and it was the Kosovo judoka who won their first clash with a buzzer-beating ouchi-gari. The top prize represented Kosovo’s first ever medal at this weight and made sure that the land Olympic champion Majlinda Kelmendi made famous finished the competition top of the medal table.
In the first semi-final Kuka threw world number 43 Nikiforova (RUS) for ippon with an uchi-mata with 45 seconds left on the clock to guarantee one more medal for Kosovo. Kuka led with a waza-ari from a hip throw before ending the contest in fine fashion. In the second semi-final Tbilisi Grand Prix silver medallist Turchyn defeated U23 European Championships bronze medallist Alexandra Gimaletdinova (RUS) in added time. Gimaletdinova struck first with a waza-ari from a tani-otoshi before Turchyn replied with an osoto-gari for a waza-ari score. In golden score the Ukrainian sealed a place in the final from a ouchi-gari which earned her second and match-winning waza-ari.
The first bronze medal contest was won by world bronze medallist Natalie Powell (GBR) who defeated Gimaletdinova with a professional performance. World number three Powell earned her 16th Grand Prix medal by a waza-ari score as Gimaletdinova offered little under an onslaught from the Welsh judoka. Only two judoka have won more Grand Prix medals than Powell (Luise Malzahn of Germany and Otgontsetseg Galbadrakh of Kazakhstan) and the Irfon Judo Club product will be one of the favourites at the European Championships later this month.
The second bronze medal was won by Nikiforova who went ahead against Agadir Grand Prix bronze medallist Yarden Mayersohn (ISR) with a waza-ari score from an osoto-makikomi. Russian Nikiforova added her second and match-winning waza-ari with a sode-tsurikomi-goshi to capture her first IJF World Judo Tour hardware.
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Ivaylo Ivanov (BUL)
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