Things could have started better for number one seed Guusje Steenhuis (NED), who is not used to disappearing early in a World Judo Tour tournament. For the winner recently in Baku and bronze medallist in Paris at the beginning of February, the first appearance was more complicated today, eliminated in her contest by the Japanese judoka Rink Wada on penalties.
Final, Yuliia Kurchenko (UKR) vs Anna Monta Olek (GER)

With this first surprise, the draw opened up for an unexpected final victory. Wada continued her momentum by beating Vicky Verschaere (BEL), to face one of the two in-form Ukrainian judoka in the category in the semi-final. It was in fact Yuliia Kurchenko (UKR) who emerged from the preliminary rounds after a first victory thanks to two waza-ari (o-uchi-gari and uchi-mata) over Linda Politi (ITA), then a second over Shu Huei Hsu Wang (TPE). Against Wada, Kurchenko confirmed her good form thanks to a new ippon.

Final, Yuliia Kurchenko (UKR) vs Anna Monta Olek (GER)

It remained to be seen whether we were going to witness an all-Ukrainian final, since Yelyzaveta Lytvynenko progressed in the second part of the draw, hoping to join her compatriot to compete for gold, but Anna Monta Olek (GER) stood in her way and the wall was too high to climb for Lytvynenko, who bowed out by waza-ari.

Gold medallist, Anna Monta Olek (GER)

In a category where Germany already has two world-class athletes, emulation works wonderfully. When Anna-Maria Wagner (WRL 3) or Alina Boehm (WRL 7) are not there, there is Anna Monta Olek (WRL 14) to take over. This does not simplify the choice for coaches when it comes to selection but it is the kind of problem that many countries would like to have. We see this type of situation more and more frequently. Ultimately, this healthy competition causes the level to skyrocket. Germany is a good exemple at -78kg with three competitors present in the top 15.

The final pitted Yuliia Kurchenko and Anna Monta Olek against each other in a contest that promised to be high intensity. The intensity was high, that's for sure, but neither of the finalists could score during normal time. They entered golden score with Kurchenko having two shido to her name, while the German judoka had one. 1 minute and forty seconds later, Anna Monta Olek could finally apply her combination of cross-grip and o-uchi-gari for waza-ari and a third gold medal in a grand prix.

Bronze medal contest, Vicky Verschaere (BEL) vs Yelyzaveta Lytvynenko (UKR)

Vicky Verschaere (BEL), author of a good early part of the competition, found herself facing Yelyzaveta Lytvynenko (UKR) to reach the podium. Probably disappointed by not reaching the final, Lytvynenko started with a massive uchi-mata of her own that was awarded waza-ari. The victory seemed within reach but Verschaere became more precise and more dangerous until the last 36 seconds, when Yelyzaveta Lytvynenko found a tiny opportunity to apply a second uchi-mata. It was a little less spectacular but the result was the same. This is bronze medal number three for the Ukrainian judoka. For a first participation in a final block Vicky Verschaere did well though and we will have to follow the Belgium judoka in the future.

Bronze medal contest, Karla Prodan (CRO) vs Rinoko Wada (JPN)

It remained to be seen who, between Karla Prodan (CRO) and Rinoko Wada (JPN), could complete the podium of this Upper Austria Grand Prix 2024. What a contest that was. Karla Prodan being taller than her opponent, she tried to impose an over-the-shoulder grip during normal time and golden score. The problem is that it was creating as many opportunities as problems. Penalised for cross-gripping, she also pushed Wada to be penalised. In the end, it was a severely disputed o-uchi-gari that offered Prodan a well deserved bronze medal after she score a waza-ari.

Medals, cheques and Linzer torte were presented by Mrs Cathy Fleury, IJF Refereeing Supervisor, World and Olympic Champion, and Mr Gerhard Oehlinger, Upper Austria Judo Federation Vice President

Final (-78 kg)

Bronze Medal Fights (-78 kg)

See also