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Akil Gjakova first man to win Grand Prix for Kosovo
28 Jul 2018 21:00
The men’s categories were also hotly-contested as Kosovo’s first and only male representative on the IJF World Judo Tour won more silverware than his female counterparts for the first time in history.
Paris Grand Slam winner Akil Gjakova of Kosovo clinched a maiden Grand Prix title having watched his sister and European champion Nora Gjakova finished fifth and Distria Krasniqi fall in the second round on Friday.
Gjakova became the first male judoka from Kosovo to win Grand Prix gold as he defeated U66kg Olympic champion Fabio Basile of Italy in the final. Gjakova, who saw sister Nora finish fifth on Friday, won his country’s first medal of the competition with a classy showing at U73kg. A waza-ari for the Kosovo judoka was the only score of the nervy contest as Gjakova held on for a win which will long be celebrated in his homeland. Kosovo are now filling out their roster with male success and women in the heavier categories and their growing ranks are a testament to the work of their national federation as they are now established as a leading nation in the Olympic sport.
In the first semi-final Olympic and world silver medallist Rustam Orujov (AZE) was beautifully dispatched by Gjakova who threw for ippon with a sasae-tsurikomi-ashi. In the second semi-final Basile downed Düsseldorf Grand Slam bronze medallist Tohar Butbul (ISR) in golden score. While Basile looked to be troubled by a muscle cramp in his right leg, he fought on and Butbul picked up a third shido for passivity in golden score as the Italian moved into the gold medal contest
The first bronze medal was won by Butbul who swept past former Junior World Championships bronze medallist Martin Hojak (SLO) by ippon. Israel’s presence in Zagreb was felt in the first men’s contest in the final block as the rising U73kg talent threw with a tai-otoshi for ippon.
The second bronze medal went to Orujov who caught Antalya Grand Prix winner Tommy Macias (SWE) with an ouchi-gari for ippon as he Azeri ace eyes World Championships gold at home in September. Orujov has now won 11 Grand Prix medals and has a huge amount of pressure on him to star for the host nation at the first World Judo Championships in Azerbaijan.
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