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Lightweight Ana Velensek wins sixth Grand Prix title
29 Jul 2018 21:25
Olympic bronze medallist Anamari Velensek of Slovenia won the +78kg heavyweight gold medal in Zagreb as the lightest judoka in the category proved to be the best judoka on this day. Openweight World Championships bronze medallist Nihel Cheikh Rouhou (TUN) was drawn into unfamiliar territory on the ground by the agile Slovenian who locked on a juji-gatame for ippon.
Former U78kg star Velensek increased her Grand Prix gold medal tally to six while also providing her country with their third medal of the weekend.
Velensek: "I have a very special feeling with Zagreb, it's my fourth win here and I can bring my family here to Zagreb. As a lightweight I try to move a lot and try to keep the distance and continue in ne-waza. My plan was to get in ne-waza because I know this is my strength. Obviously this feeling is very good as the Europeans were dissapointing and know I know I am on the right track for the World Championships. A medal in Baku will be something new and I hope it happens, so if I take one in the heavyweights it will be great."
In the first semi-final Velensek defeated Tbilisi Grand Prix silver medallist Maryna Slutskaya (BLR) by a waza-ari score to guarantee one more medal for the Slovenian delegation in Croatia. In the second semi-final former European champion Kayra Sayit (TUR) was held down by Cheikh Rouhou for ippon.
The first bronze medal was awarded to Agadir Grand Prix winner Yelyzaveta Kalanina (UKR) as beaten semi-finalist Sayit could not compete due to a knee injury.
The second bronze medal was won by Asahina who returned to winning ways as she defeated Tbilisi Grand Prix silver medallist Maryna Slutskaya (BLR). Kodokan product Asahina opened the scoring with a waza-ari and added a second with a kami-shiho-gatame hold before being congratulated by her father in the stands.
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Michael Castillo (CRC)