On day 1, Saturday 3rd June, there were some big names on the tatami and also some big surprises. Mary Dee Vargas Ley (CHI) was among them, happy to fight at home for a change. A seasoned competitor on the WJT and Chile’s most successful woman of all time, she won her category, -48kg and topped the podium with a big smile.
Another veteran of world judo, 2008 Olympic bronze medallist and champion in Antalya this year, Ketleyn Quadros (BRA) won her group, putting on a faultless display through the day. As a judoka inside the world’s top ten she was the clear number one seed and lived up to that ranking, moving smoothly past Valencia (ECU), Perez (CHI) and Tattarelli (ARG).
The biggest surprise of the frost day came from Mexico, a country on a huge upward swing at the moment, with Prisca Awiti Alcaraz (-63kg) beating world champion Horikawa (JPN) at the World Judo Championships in Doha just two weeks ago, before claiming bronze in Linz last week. Her teammate, Cardoso, won bronze in Dushanbe just yesterday at -73kg, a career best performance from him.
In Chile it was 21 year old Robin Jara who dominated. Jara has numerous continental open medals but until yesterday there were no golds. In a highly competitive group which included former junior world champion and 4-time grand slam medallist Willian Lima (BRA) as well as Experienced World Judo Tour competitors Takabatake (BRA) and Preciado (ECU), it was Jara who came out on top.
It is still Brazil topping the medal table, perhaps to be expected, but with 10 of the thirteen nations present already winning medals, it shows that all countries are pushing towards improvement and that will always be a great thing.
Day two of the Santiago Open can be followed via JudoTV.com today alongside the coverage of the final day in Dushanbe.