Croatia's Barbara Matic in action
More great action was on display on the second day of the Judo Grand Prix in the Croatian capital, Zagreb.
At the official opening ceremony, Tomo Medved, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia, gave a speech, alongside Laszlo Toth, Vice President of the International Judo Federation and President of the European Judo Union.
Also present was Sanda Čorak, Education Director of the International Judo Federation and President of the Croatian Judo Federation.
They witnessed a special demonstration by the Judo Club for Persons with Disabilities FUJI.
In the competition, in the under -63kg category, Canada’s Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard had a phenomenal day, taking her second World Tour title.
Tomo Medved, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia, was on hand to award the medals
Italy’s world silver medallist, Manuel Lombardo, has been making waves since moving up a weight category, but gold at -73kg had eluded him until now. He won the final in the very first exchange.
He was awarded his medals by Lisa Allan and afterwards spoke about his hopes for the World Championships.
“I have 100% in the final block for the World Championships, but 100% of final block loss, so I will try to do better in Tashkent,” said Lombardo.
Croatia’s own World Champion Barbara Matic was very much under the spotlight.
With the nation’s hopes pinned on her, she came out strong, with spectacular Ippons, earning her a spot in the final.
There she met Germany’s Miriam Butkereit, where a decisive score gave her the gold medal in front of her adoring fans, a great moment for Croatian Judo, and a chance for autographs and selfies for the next generation of Croatian judoka.
She was awarded her medal by Yasuhiro Yamashita, IJF EC Member and International Olympic Committee member.
“I’m glad that everyone is cheering my name, it’s like motivation for me, so it’s good yeah,” said an excited Matic.
At under -81kg, France’s Alpha Djalo was the man on form.
The explosive Frenchman flew into the finals where he took on former world champion and Olympic silver medallist Saied Mollaei.
A moment of pure dynamism earned him the decisive score and earned Djalo his first ever World Tour gold medal.
Florin Daniel Lascau, Head Referee Director of the IJF, awarded the medals.
With Matic in the spotlight that didn’t stop the rest of the team from performing – the IJF move of the day came from Iva Oberan with this fantastic Ippon giving the local fans yet more to cheer about – a great way to end day two of the Zagreb Grand Prix.