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Distria Krasniqi steps in for Kelmendi
8 Feb 2020 18:10
World Judo Masters winner Distria Krasniqi of Kosovo defeated Olympic silver medallist Odette Giuffrida (ITA) as a late replacement for her injured teammate and Olympic champion Majlinda Kelmendi (KOS).
The talk before the tournament centred around the likelihood of seeing one more chapter in the epic rivalry between Giuffrida and Kelmendi but, after Kosovo’s hero had to withdraw for the second competition in a row, it prompted a last-minute reshuffle by Kosovo’s mastermind Driton Toni Kuka as Krasniqi made the move up from the -48kg category to instead compete in the -52kg division.
Krasniqi, who trailed 1-3 in her head-to-head series against Giuffrida - having long flirted with the heavier division before firmly settling back into the -48kg category during this Olympic cycle – outfought the Italian as Kelmendi urged her on from the stands. A hiza-guruma from Krasniqi, who is ranked number two in the -48kg category and number 48 in the -52kg category, gave her a waza-ari score before Giuffrida received her third and final shido for pushing out her rival.
In the first semi-final Krasniqi outlasted London 2012 Olympic champion Sarah Menezes (BRA) who received her marching orders for her third penalty in golden score.
In the second semi-final Giuffrida humbled world number 14 Astride Gneto (FRA) who made three mistakes and was disqualified as the Italian lapped up the result and the jeers of the crowd before disappearing into the tunnel to look ahead to her final.
The first bronze medal contest opposed home hope Gneto and former world champion Shishime Ai (JPN) who dampened the carnival atmosphere, at least temporarily, by emphatically throwing the French judoka with an uchi-mata for ippon.
In the second bronze medal contest Menezes lost out to her teammate and world number 15 Larissa Pimenta (BRA) from a low, left-sided seoi-nage, after 15 seconds of golden score, which was awarded a waza-ari score to put the 20-year-old on the brink of selection for her first Olympic Games.
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