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Alexandru Raicu surprises all expectations with gold medal

19 Feb 2021 20:45

 Jo Crowley - IJF    IJF Ben Urban / International Judo Federation
20200219_telaviv_fb_ijf_ben_urban_73_alexandru_raicu

Romanian Alexandru Raicu was the surprise guest of the category; the Romanian has not obtained any medals on the circuit previously, so gold today, after an explosive final with dynamic young Italian Giovanni Esposito (cadet world champion in 2015 and already a silver medalist in Tel Aviv last year), was an unexpected treat.

The local public had high expectations for  the performance of Tohar Butbul (ISR), the tournament's number one seed at U73kg. However, the Israeli, after a thunderous start, lost in the quarter-finals against the future champion, Alexandru Raicu (ROU).

Disappointed not to reach the final, Tohar Butbul tried to console himself with an effort to gain the bronze medal, but former Olympic champion Lasha Shavdatuashvili (GEO) was standing in front of him. The challenge wasn’t enough though and Butbul took the win on penalties.

Shavdatuashvili's compatriot, Nugzari Tatalashvili (GEO), found himself in the second match for a bronze medal, against a regular on the international podia, Tommy Macias of Sweden. This time it was a Georgian victory.

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  • Tohar Butbul (ISR) - Grand Slam Tel Aviv (2021, ISR) - © Mongolian JudoHeroes
  • Tommy Macias (SWE) - Grand Slam Tel Aviv (2021, ISR) - © Mongolian JudoHeroes
  • Alexandru Raicu (ROU), Giovanni Esposito (ITA), Tohar Butbul (ISR), Nugzari Tatalashvili (GEO) - Grand Slam Tel Aviv (2021, ISR) - © IJF Gabriela Sabau, International Judo Federation

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