When you are a two-time world champion, the last time in October in Tashkent, when you are an Olympic champion, in Rio in 2016, to name only the most significant results, you can step on the tatami with confidence. With that, Rafaela Silva does not lack and yet the Brazilian champion remains humble. She knows where she comes from, she knows what she had to do to get there and she knows that nothing is ever guaranteed.
Final: SILVA Rafaela (BRA) vs HUH Mimi (KOR)

Her gesture towards her semi-final opponent, Capanni Dias (ITA), after a fight that lasted more than eleven minutes, says a lot about Silva's state of mind. Obviously exhausted after such a battle, she still had a big smile and gave a massive hug to Thauany Capanni Dias, because she knew that she, like her opponent, had delivered everything, given everything, and that they could be proud, one like the other.

Gold medallist: HUH Mimi (KOR)

Thus Silva again reached the final. Things weren't easy but she successfully passed the elimination phase and that's what counts in the end. In the final she found an athlete we have seen gaining momentum for months. Mimi Huh (KOR) is determined and she doesn't flinch, regardless of the opponent in front of her.

Earlier, in the semi-finals, Mimi Huh was opposed to an old acquaintance, the British judoka Nekoda Smythe-Davis. It only lasted a few seconds as Huh threw Smythe-Davis for a superb ippon but let's dwell a bit on the performance of Smythe-Davis. As a young mother, she had put her career on hold during her pregnancy and it was an injury that took her away from the tatami for a long time before that. Despite all this and although she had every reason to stop, she resumed training and organised her life to perform again. It's not a defeat in the semi-finals that calls this into question, it's even the opposite. Do you realise that Smythe-Davis started her day of competition in 60th place in the world and tonight she was in a position to compete for a bronze medal on the international circuit. Ah yes, let's not forget to mention that she is a double world medallist. Behind the performance there is desire, motivation, a touch of madness perhaps, and above all a lot of training. Speaking of madness, isn't that what defines the beauty of sport and what inspires or should inspire the world?

Bronze medal contest: ERMAGANBETOVA Nilufar (UZB) vs SMYTHE-DAVIS Nekoda (GBR)

The judo practiced by Huh is not really the one that Silva is happy with and the Korean proving to be quite the nemesis of the Brazilian in recent months, Silva's last loss against Huh having been at the World Judo Masters in Jerusalem only 5 weeks ago. As the match was progressing, the final gong resonated in the venue. With only one shido apiece, it was time for golden score and Silva didn't seem to be in a very good position and more than that didn’t have a clear solution to defeat Huh. After a while Silva was penalised with a shido that put her under even more pressure. That pressure was slightly released when Huh stepped out of the competition area and was also penalised, but during the following sequence, the Korean judoka lauched a seoi-nage that gave no chance to the world champion. It was ippon and a gold medal for Huh.

Bronze medallist: SMYTHE-DAVIS Nekoda (GBR)

We found for the first bronze medal a match between Nilufar Ermaganbetova (UZB) and Nekoda Smythe-Davis. Both athletes were rapidly sanctioned for avoiding the grip. A second shido was given to Smythe-Davis for an action against the arm, after an intervention of the video-refereeing. The reason for that penalty is that Smythe-Davis applied pressure on the arm, but with no real will of throwing, which is penalised with shido. The same action with a throwing technique would have been penalised with a disqualification. Luckily for the British competitor, it didn't block her from performing a beautiful uchi-mata with the control of the two sleeves of her opponent. Congratulations Nekoda. You'll make your daughter proud and all the mums around the world, who know now that it is possible.

Bronze medallist: CAPANNI DIAS Thauany David (ITA)

To conclude the day, as far as the matches for the bronze medals are concerned, we saw the match between Marica Perisic (SRB) and Thauany Capanni Dias (ITA). Capanni Dias was quickly under pressure, being penalised twice for passivity and it really seemed that she could not find the slightest solution. Only a change of direction, something dramatic, could change the course of the contest and that is what Thauany Capanni Dias did. Left handed up to this moment, she suddenly dropped on her knees for a right-handed seoi-nage, that scored ippon. Well done!

Medals and prize money were presented by Mr Neil ADAMS, IJF Refereeing Supervisor, World Champion, Double Silver Olympic Medallist , and Member of the IJF Hall of Fame and Mr Antonio Martins BORREGO, President of the Justice Council of the Portuguese Judo Federation

More images of the Grand Prix Portugal 2023 - CLICK HERE

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