It was the first time Portugal had organised the World Judo Tour but it ended with a fairy tale finish for homegrown hero Jorge Fonseca. Ippon after ippon, the double world champion flew through the preliminaries, clearly hungry to win his first Grand Prix gold in his home country.
In the final he defeated up and coming Swiss judoka, Daniel Eich, with a trademark moment of brilliance.
The ecstatic Portuguese crowd celebrated his victory while Vítor Pataco, President of the Portuguese Institute for Sports and Youth, awarded Fonseca his medal.
Speaking after his triumph, Fonseca said: “It was so important for Portugal to have this competition because it is a competition from the World Judo Tour, from the International Judo Federation, so it is very important not only for the growth of our national athletes so that we can win medals, but also for big events to be held here. And in regards to the pressure, no I didn’t really feel the pressure. I just wanted to have fun and to give the spectators a show, and we did it together.”
Team Korea dominates
Elsewhere, victory for Korea’s Hyunji Yoon laid the foundations for an incredible performance from Team Korea. She was awarded her gold by Catarina Rodrigues, Events Director of the Portuguese Judo Federation.
“I trained a lot to throw with accurate techniques and in specific positions. I also practiced how to solve situations quickly without panicking in all circumstances, all while trying to think strategically about various situations,” said Yoon.
In the -90 kilo category, Jesper Smink brought home his first ever World Judo Tour gold medal. A bit of quick thinking in the final saw the Dutchman topple his Italian opponent Christian Parlati. Director General of the International Judo Federation, Vlad Marinescu, presented the medals.
It was all smiles for Hayun Kim, as she took gold in the +78 kilo category. IJF Events Director, Dr Lisa Allan awarded the Korean her medal.
Korea’s third gold medal of the day went to Minjong Kim. He beat Japan’s Nakamura in the + 100 kilo final. A brilliant combination attack of Uchi mata into a kata kuuruma secured Kim the gold. Head Referee Director of the IJF, Ki-Young Jeon, presented Kim’s medal
Held in front of passionate Portuguese crowd in Almada, the three day tournament was the perfect way to kick off this year’s World Judo Tour.