Three of the top 4 seeds did what their ranking suggested and made it to the quarter-final stages. Mimi Huh (KOR), Timna Nelson Levy (ISR) and Pauline Starke. However, only Huh reached the semi-final and subsequent final of the -57 kg category. She passed Bozkurt (TUR), Galitskaia (AIN), Ballhaus (GER) and lastly Takano (JPN), with her trademark unceasing style, always on the move.
Mimi Huh's o-uchi-gari.

Ballhaus and Takano were both on good form though and fought for bronzes in the final block of this first day of competition. Vellozzi (FRA), an unseeded athlete, was to be Ballhaus’ opposition after she took out Starke in their respective quarter-final. Vellozzi was unexpected but impressive throughout, having fought 10 previous World Judo Tour events without result. Continuing to push herself was a good choice as she made it to the final block In Odivelas right in the heart of Olympic qualification.

Takano (JPN) aimed at ippon all day.

Takano’s bronze was not assured, despite her teammates lighting the way in the lighter categories. Timna Nelson Levy is never an easy challenge and Takano would need to be sharp to take the victory.

The second finalist has not yet been mentioned but it was the current European Champion, Daria Kurbonmadova, who overpowered world medallist Kowalczyk (POL) and talented young Turkish athlete Bozkurt ahead of a quarter-final against the Israeli. It was there that she really showed her class, spinning into an unstoppable uchi-mata and forcing Nelson Levy to concede to a stunning technique.

Kurbonmamadova (AIN) winning her semi-final.

The first bronze medal was fought for with great skill, the French competitor having sharp transition phases and the German becoming evermore physical as her career continues. There was pace and the intention to score throughout but with one second remaining on the clock it was Ballhaus who secured a place on the podium with a swift change of direction and a tight grip, leaving Vellozzi just outside the prize-winners but we are sure she’ll be back; this isn’t the last we’ve seen of her.

Seija Ballhaus (GER) happy to double the Ballhaus haul in Portugal.

The second bronze medal contest, between Nelson Levy and Takano, was far more tactical than the first, despite Nelson Levy’s robust and confident gripping at close quarters.A visibly happy Takano left the tatami heading for the rostrum after an excellent final phase of the contest with a ken ken osoto-gari that commanded a score.

Takano created her opening to take the bronze.

The final was a first meeting for Huh and Kurbonmamadova. They have completely different styles, both successful, both dominant, both dangerous. The gold medal was won in ne-waza with an o-uchi-gari for waza-ari and a pin which seemed insecure. Huh changed her hip position as many times as were needed to stop her opponent escaping and she claimed the score for a ten second hold to complete the task.

A happy victory for Mimi Huh (KOR).

Final (-57 kg)

Bronze Medal Fights (-57 kg)

Medals, cheques and flowers presented by IJF Refereeing Supervisor & Olympic Champion Mr Giuseppe Maddaloni and President of the National Graduation Committee of the Portuguese Judo Federation Mr Fausto Carvalho.
See also