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Brilliant Bulgarian Ivaylo Ivanov spoils Dutch dreams
17 Nov 2018 21:40
Ivaylo Ivanov of Bulgaria reinvigorated his career with gold on Saturday as he left home hero and two-time Grand Slam winner Frank De Wit (NED) in tears. Ivanov returned to an IJF medal podium for the first time in 18 months with a come-from-behind win over world number two De Wit who was overzealous and perhaps overawed by the occasion as he fought in a Grand Prix final for the first time in front of his home fans.
World number 26 and Former Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner Ivanov, who finished seventh at the Rio 2016 Olympics, fell behind to a waza-ari from an o-soto-gari but picked up his opponent to equal the score. The Bulgarian judoka pounced to tie up his adversary in osaekomi as De Wit was powerless while trapped in a mune-gatame hold which earned the outsider his second Grand Prix crown.
The home judoka took the defeat well and applauded his supporters when he stepped onto the podium to receive his silver medal. De Wit finished fifth at his home event a year ago and is moving in the right direction while Ivanov will be overjoyed after rediscovering his form at a vital time in the Olympic qualification period for Tokyo 2020.
In the first semi-final Ivanov pinned down former European U23 Championships bronze medallist Jim Heijman (NED) with a yoko-shiho-gatame for 20 seconds and a place in the final. In the second semi-final De Wit bested Zagreb Grand Prix gold medallist Dominic Ressel (GER) after four minutes of golden score with a ko-uchi-gake.
The first bronze medal was won by Ressel after world number 63 Vlad Visan (ROU) managed to pick up three penalties in the opening 68 seconds and was disqualified. Romania’s Visan will be questioned about his tactics as he showed his inexperience at the top level by going out of the area for his third and final shido.
The second bronze medal went to European Championships bronze medallist Antonio Esposito (ITA) who threw Heijman in golden score to deny the hosts a place a second place on the U81kg podium. A sode-tsurikomi-goshi from the Italian was the difference but Heijman can be happy with his days work in just his second IJF event having debuted a year ago at home.
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Josephine Horton (GBR)
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