The final day of The Hague Grand Prix 2017 belonged to the Netherlands who won three out of the five heavyweight gold medals on day three to end their comeback competition on the IJF World Judo Tour as the leading nation.
The Netherlands were hosting their first IJF World Judo Tour competition since 2011 and not only did their athletes rise to the occasion but their fans were in full voice and played their part in a highly-successful return for one of judo's most admired countries.
IJF President Mr. Marius VIZER presented Mr Felix THIEME (centre - left), Dutch Judo Federation President, with the IJF World Judo Tour Gold Card on Saturday evening
IJF President Mr. Marius VIZER also presented an IJF Plaque to Frans van DE VEN (centre - right), General Secretary of High Level Sports and Events of the City of The Hague
FIRST GRAND PRIX IN THE HAGUE EARNS HIGH PRAISE
In the final Grand Prix of the year and the first edition in The Hague -- which saw the hosts finish top of the medal table with five gold, two silver and five bronze medals -- there were joyous scenes among the spectators who turned out in great numbers to witness a the start of a new chapter for the Dutch Judo Federation.
Serbia's gold medallist KUKOLJ (in white) throws MARCHITAN of the U.A.E in the -90kg second round
Dr. Lisa ALLAN, IJF Competition Manager and Executive Committee member, praised the organisation and thinks the competition will be even better next year.
"For a first edition it has been an excellent Grand Prix and already the event has proven to be a very popular addition to the IJF World Judo Tour calendar.
"The IJF and Dutch Judo Federation has established a very strong partnership to deliver this new Grand Prix and both sides are very happy. The hosts had a great strategy to attract spectators and the atmosphere has been electric."
Mr. Wouter KOEMAN, Dutch Judo Federation Event Manager, said: "We are very pleased with how the competition has gone. This was our comeback event and this edition is a really good benchmark for us. We spoke to all the nations and the feedback has been very positive ands we expect a lot more entries and more nations next year when the competition is part of the qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics."
ISRAEL'S FIRST WORLD JUDO CHAMPION YARDEN GERBI CONTINUES TO INSPIRE
Israel's first world judo champion and Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Yarden GERBI (ISR) was in The Hague to deliver a masterclass on Saturday and Sunday.
The 28-year-old retired in October but was back on the mat in the Netherlands to teach local children some new skills and to share her remarkable story.
"I have had a very nice experience here giving clinics to children from the age of 6 to 12 and it's something I love doing," said the 2013 world champion and 2014 world silver medallist.
"I have done this type of activity in other countries and at home, I like to be with children and to pass on my knowledge. I think it's an amazing idea from the Dutch Judo Federation to develop judo with children while they were here to watch judo.
"One girl gave me a strong randori and threw me with osoto-gari and then held me down and it was such a happy moment for her, the parents and all the families watching loved it. I want to help future champions and this is something close to my heart."
GERBI also revealed the reasoning for her retirement and said she is happy with her career and has a host of offers on the table.
The Netherlands' next generation were able to watch the world's best judoka and train themselves at#JudoTheHague2017
"When I returned to regular training everyday, twice a day, I thought why am I doing it. The moment I started back I thought it is not enough for me to keep going, I am so grateful for my world and Olympic medals and everything I have achieved.
"I feel like I want more relaxation and more family time and I am satisfied by decision. I don't know what's next but I have a lot of offers, from Israel and abroad and ranging from sport to politics and business."
OLYMPIC CHAMPION ONO SHOHEI SET TO RETURN AT TOKYO GRAND SLAM
The IJF World Judo Tour will now head to Asia for the fifth and final Grand Slam of the year in Tokyo next month. Olympic champion and two-time world champion ONO Shohei (JPN) -- who is widely regarded as being the best pound-for-pound judoka in the world -- makes his return at the Tokyo Grand Slam and will appear in his new gold backpatch for the first time.
ONO will be joined on -73kg duty for Japan by world champion HASHIMOTO Soichi (JPN) who has won his last seven competitions and the superstar duo could meet for the first time at an IJF event.
The Tokyo Grand Slam 2017 will feature 455 judoka from 66 nations including Olympic champions Rafaela SILVA (BRA), Lukas KRPALEK (CZE), Fabio BASILE (ITA) and Tina TRSTENJAK (SLO).
Watch #JudoTokyo2017 live and free from 2-3 December at www.IJF.org
-78kg: First Grand Prix win for former world number one STEENHUIS
Five-time Grand Slam winner Guusje STEENHUIS (NED) became a Grand Prix winner for the first time on Sunday as the former world leader defeated Abu Dhabi Grand Slam silver medallist Marhinde VERKERK (NED) in an all-Dutch final. STEENHUIS was overlooked for Rio 2016 in favour of VERKERK and it's only now that the former appears to have banished that from her mind and has regained her focus with Tokyo 2020 and the World Championships 2018 in mind. There was nothing to separate the arch-rivals in regulation time and golden score was required. A shido for dropping against VERKERK settled the final as both judoka will continue to have a large role to play in the -78kg category next year.
In the first semi-final STEENHUIS defeated compatriot and Hohhot Grand Prix silver medallist Karen STEVENSON (NED). STEENHUIS threw with an o-guruma for a waza-ari score and went back to the same technique for a second waza-ari moments later. STEVENSON elected to immediately tap out to the hold down from STEENHUIS who advanced to the gold medal contest. In the second semi-final VERKERK beat 17-time Grand Prix medallist Luise MALZAHN after four minutes of golden score. A shido against the German for dropping was the difference as the hosts' dream final came to fruition.
The first bronze medal contest was won by MALZAHN who threw Tashkent Grand Prix bronze medallist Anastasiya DMITRIEVA (RUS) and then held down the Russian for ippon. MALZAHN now has more Grand Prix medals than any judoka after this result in The Hague which provided her 18th medal at this level which is one more than GALBADRAKH of Kazakhstan has on her resume. The German judoka scored a waza-ari with an osoto-gari and was never going to lose control of a strong pin as DMITRIEVA was well-beaten. The second bronze medal was won by STEVENSON who submitted 21-year-old European u23 Championships winner Anna Maria WAGNER (GER) with a koshi-jime.
VERKERK, Marhinde (NED) vs STEENHUIS, Guusje (NED)
Bronze Medal Fights
MALZAHN, Luise (GER) vs DMITRIEVA, Anastasiya (RUS)
WAGNER, Anna Maria (GER) vs STEVENSON, Karen (NED)
1. STEENHUIS, Guusje (NED)
2. VERKERK, Marhinde (NED)
3. MALZAHN, Luise (GER)
3. STEVENSON, Karen (NED)
5. DMITRIEVA, Anastasiya (RUS)
5. WAGNER, Anna Maria (GER)
7. GROENWOLD, Larissa (NED)
7. TURCHYN, Anastasiya (UKR)
+78kg: World number three SAVELKOULS moves the Netherlands out of sight
Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner Tessie SAVELKOULS (NED) lived up to her billing as the top seed by defeating former Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Sandra JABLONSKYTE (LTU) to win +78kg gold. SAVELKOULS, who finished fifth at the Openweight World Championships last time out, came into the final with a 2-1 winning head-to-head record against JABLONSKYTE and extended that with a defiant display which has become typical of the fast-rising Dutchwoman. SAVELKOULS went ahead with a waza-ari score and applied a kami-shiho-gatame hold for the full 20 seconds to win by ippon and thrill the home crowd who were treated to a golden medal rush.
In the first semi-final SAVELKOULS made light work of world number 47 Kristin BUESSOW (GER) as she scored two waza-ari before winning by ippon. In the second semi-final Tashkent Grand Prix bronze medallist Sarah ADLINGTON (GBR) lost out to JABLONSKYTE (LTU) by a waza-ari score.
The first bronze medal was awarded to world number 24 ADLINGTON after former Tashkent Grand Prix bronze medallist Daria KARPOVA (RUS) was penalised with a third shido for passivity. Scottish judoka ADLINGTON is now in the hunt for a place at the World Judo Masters in December which features the top 16 judoka in the world in each weight category.
The second bronze medal was won by BUESSOW against teammate and 18-year-old Grand Prix newcomer Samira BOUIZGARNE (GER) who was thrown with a harai-makikomi for the maximum score.
JABLONSKYTE, Sandra (LTU) vs SAVELKOULS, Tessie (NED)
Bronze Medal Fights
ADLINGTON, Sarah (GBR) vs KARPOVA, Daria (RUS)
BOUIZGARNE, Samira (GER) vs BUESSOW, Kristin (GER)
1. SAVELKOULS, Tessie (NED)
2. JABLONSKYTE, Sandra (LTU)
3. ADLINGTON, Sarah (GBR)
3. BUESSOW, Kristin (GER)
5. KARPOVA, Daria (RUS)
5. BOUIZGARNE, Samira (GER)
7. KHOMYN, Aleksandra (RUS)
-90kg: World number one KUKOLJ back to form with maiden Grand Prix gold medal
World number one and European champion Aleksandar KUKOLJ (SRB) was back among the medallists for the first time since June as he went unbeaten to win the -90kg title which represented his first Grand Prix win. KUKOLJ came into the arena and touched the mat as he visualised victory before exiting the field of play an hour before the final block. The Serbian went in front against Magomed MAGOMEDOV (RUS) with a ko-uchi-gari with 30 seconds left on the clock and had no trouble staying busy to see out the remaining seconds. The 26-year-old tightened his grip of the world number one position ahead of his teammate and world champion Nemanja MAJDOV (SRB) and will be in line for the $50,000 bonus which will go to all world leaders at the end of the year.
In the first semi-final KUKOLJ tapped out European u23 Championships bronze medallist Rafal KOZLOWSKI (POL) with a juji-gatame to guarantee an overdue and very welcome return to the medal podium for the Serbian star. In the second semi-final Junior European Championships bronze medallist Jesper SMINK (NED) succumb to MAGOMEDOV who prevailed by two waza-ari scores which went unanswered.
The first bronze medal was won by SMINK as the 19-year-old Dutchman beat Junior World Championships bronze medallist Eduard TRIPPEL (GER). SMINK opened the final block in style for the hosts as he caught TIPPEL first with an osoto-makikomi for a waza-ari and then with a ko-uchi-gari for ippon. The German 20-year-old never established his rhythm and had to settle for fifth-place as he did at his home Grand Prix in Dusseldorf in February.
The second bronze medal went to world number 265 KOZLOWSKI who defeated Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner Nikoloz SHERAZADISHVILI (ESP). The 22-year-old Grand Prix rookie from Poland was the only judoka to score and that was in the form of a waza-ari from a driving ippon-seoi-nage.
MAGOMEDOV, Magomed (RUS) vs KUKOLJ, Aleksandar (SRB)
Bronze Medal Fights
SMINK, Jesper (NED) vs TRIPPEL, Eduard (GER)
SHERAZADISHVILI, Nikoloz (ESP) vs KOZLOWSKI, Rafal (POL)
1. KUKOLJ, Aleksandar (SRB)
2. MAGOMEDOV, Magomed (RUS)
3. SMINK, Jesper (NED)
3. KOZLOWSKI, Rafal (POL)
5. TRIPPEL, Eduard (GER)
5. SHERAZADISHVILI, Nikoloz (ESP)
7. VAN EMPELEN, Bas (NED)
7. ERDENEKHUU, Munkhjargal (MGL)
-100kg: Russia's ZANKISHIEV breaks into the world's top eight
World number eight Kazbek ZANKISHIEV (RUS) became a two-time Grand Prix winner on the last day of The Hague Grand Prix as he saw off surprise finalist Hohhot Grand Prix bronze medallist Joakim DVARBY (SWE). The Russian is a notorious slow starter and both his scores in the final came in the last 45 seconds as DVARBY more than held his own up to that point. An osoto-gari started the scoring and was worth a waza-ari before a sode-tsurikomi-goshi added a second waza-ari and ZANKISHIEV was awarded the win after four minutes.
In the first semi-final world number one Michael KORREL (NED) was shocked by DVARBY who countered the Dutchman with a ko-soto-gake for ippon with 42 seconds left. KORREL had been in the charge of the contest and piled on the pressure, with DVARBY having two shidos, but the Swede took his chance to deliver one of the biggest upsets on day three. In the second semi-final ZANKISHIEV (RUS) drove past 19-year-old Grand Prix debutant Jelle SNIPPE (NED) by ippon from an emphatic osoto-gari after two minutes.
The first bronze medal was won by SNIPPE who beat former world bronze medallist Ivan REMARENCO (UAE) to mark his IJF World Judo Tour debut with a place on the medal podium. The Dutchman rolled over REMARENCO for a waza-ari and immediately applied a tate-shiho-gatame hold from which the U.A.E veteran tapped out.
The second bronze medal went to KORREL who was patient against 23-year-old Ferdinand ANSAH (NED) to take a scoreless contest. KORREL was too patient it proved as he was surprisingly forced into golden score but ANSAH picked up a third shido after 41 seconds for passivity to send the world number one onto the podium in his homeland.
ZANKISHIEV, Kazbek (RUS) vs DVARBY, Joakim (SWE)
Bronze Medal Fights
SNIPPE, Jelle (NED) vs REMARENCO, Ivan (UAE)
ANSAH, Ferdinand (NED) vs KORREL, Michael (NED)
1. ZANKISHIEV, Kazbek (RUS)
2. DVARBY, Joakim (SWE)
3. SNIPPE, Jelle (NED)
3. KORREL, Michael (NED)
5. REMARENCO, Ivan (UAE)
5. ANSAH, Ferdinand (NED)
7. DICHEV, Daniel (BUL)
7. SCHOENEFELDT, Domenik (GER)
+100kg: The people's champion Roy MEYER ends The Hague Grand Prix on a high
The Netherlands' charismatic heavyweight Roy MEYER (NED) was the main man for the hosts as he turned in the best result from their men's team. The 26-year-old World Judo Masters bronze medallist showed his power and his personality as he beat Abu Dhabi Grand Slam silver medallist Maciej SARNACKI (POL) in the last contest of The Hague Grand Prix 2017. MEYER went underneath for a seoi-nage but SARNACKI rotated off the attack in a signal of intent from the Dutchman before he took the lead with a ko-uchi-gari for a waza-ari score. In a tough match both judoka had two shidos next to their names in the closing moments as MEYER lived dangerously despite his lead but was able to stay active to see the Netherlands home with a fifth gold medal. MEYER and SARNACKI put their arms around each other and turned to the fans in a showing of mutual respect and appreciation for the supporters.
In the first semi-final SARNACKI saw off three-time Grand Prix medallist Daniel ALLERSTORFER (AUT) by a waza-ari which score which came from a polished sasae-tsurikomi-ashi technique. In the second semi-final MEYER held down Antalya Grand Prix bronze medallist Musa TUMENOV (RUS) for ippon to make sure that he would be on the medal podium at home. MEYER failed with a seoi-nage but cleverly turned over his opponent and overpowered him for 20 seconds to ignite the crowd.
The first bronze medal was won by two-time Grand Prix medallist Soslan BOSTANOV (RUS) who took over his countryman with ashi-waza and held him down for 20 seconds for ippon. A third Grand Prix medal for BOSTANOV kept Russia's medal column ticking over and all but assured the 34-year-old veteran more run outs in 2018.
The second bronze medal went to former Moscow Grand Slam winner Javad MAHJOUB (IRI) who racked up three scores against ALLERSTORFER on his heavyweight debut. MAHJOUB looks a new man at the heavier weight and came in at 117kg which suited him as he threw the heavier man twice with a seoi-nage for waza-ari scores having already led by one waza-ari.
+100kg gold medallist Roy MEYER meets his young fans after winning the final
MEYER, Roy (NED) vs SARNACKI, Maciej (POL)
Bronze Medal Fights
TUMENOV, Musa (RUS) vs BOSTANOV, Soslan (RUS)
MAHJOUB, Javad (IRI) vs ALLERSTORFER, Daniel (AUT)
1. MEYER, Roy (NED)
2. SARNACKI, Maciej (POL)
3. BOSTANOV, Soslan (RUS)
3. MAHJOUB, Javad (IRI)
5. TUMENOV, Musa (RUS)
5. ALLERSTORFER, Daniel (AUT)
7. CULUM, Zarko (SRB)
7. HARMEGNIES, Benjamin (BEL)