In the first round, she eliminated Marusa Stangar (SLO), not without difficulty. After scoring a first waza-ari with an ashi-waza, Stangar equalised and regained hope, but the pressure was too great for the Slovenian athlete who was penalised three times. It was a close call. An identical scenario occurred in the next round against the experienced Shira Rishony (ISR). With a waza-ari on each side, Assunta Scutto pushed Rishony into error. A small gap, illustrated by a shido, was enough to disqualify her opponent.
Once again, the semi-final was close since it was Laura Martinez Abelenda (ESP) who was the first to action, scoring a waza-ari. Not discouraged, Scutto found the resources to win by ippon. The day was not that easy for the Italian but in adversity she always found a solution.
In the final, she found the first chance of a gold medal for the host country, since it was the surprising Leyla Aliyeva (AZE) who qualified at the expense of much higher ranked judoka. This is how the young Azeri judoka took on world number two and world silver medallist Shirine Boukli (FRA), who did not expect such opposition. In the semi-final, Aliyeva, with momentum on her side, won against world number 6, Milica Nikolic (SRB). Everything was still possible in the final.
Clinical groundwork secures gold for Italy! Assunta Scutto 🇮🇹🥇— Judo (@Judo) September 22, 2023
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Leyla Aliyeva was not afraid of facing the world number one and was the first to action, producing attacks that were sometimes close to scoring. Assunta Scutto is not world number one for no reason though and she didn't let the opportunity fly away, when Aliyeva made a small mistake on the floor. With a well executed turnover, Scutto pinned down her opponent, who couldn't escape, for ippon. The world number one stays number one.
The first contest for a bronze medal was between Sabina Giliazova (AIN) and Milica Nikolic (SRB). With 35 participations in grand slams, Nikolic has a strong experience of that level of competition, but even if Sabina Giliazova was less experienced, she produced a beautiful ashi-waza, making Nikolic rotate flat on her back for ippon. The bronze medal was for Sabina Giliazova.
Undoubtedly not satisfied with her performance today, Boukli nevertheless had a chance to step on the podium against Laura Martinez Abelenda. It must be underlined that at -48kg there are several countries with several athletes in the top 20 which will make it difficult to determine yet who will go to the Games. This applies of course for the nations that have to qualify as it applies for France that has already the spot as the host nation but all will have to choose the judoka with the best chances next year. Spain and Italy are in that position and today’s match will give some indications of potential future choices.
Both judoka perfectly neutralised the other and had to enter the golden score period, one of the few of the day. A third shido was given to Laura Martinez Abelenda and that offered the victory and the bronze medal to Shirin Boukli.