Nine golds, nine different countries
The Hague Grand Prix produced a scintillating second day of judo as Bulgaria, China, Great Britain and Russia added their names to the winners list with the nine gold medals so far all being awarded to different countries.
Judo is well-known for its diversity in terms of its participants and it’s medallists with 26 countries winning medals at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as a clear and incredible statistic. This feat is always a regular occurrence on the IJF World Judo Tour as judo has established itself as one of the most competitive sports in the world.
All five gold medals were claimed by different countries on Friday and that continued on Saturday as a completely different set of anthems played on day two at the Sportcampus Zuiderpark.
The Netherlands are off the mark at home - brace of silver medals for the hosts
Frank DE WIT took -81kg silver while teammate Sanne VAN DIJKE (NED) claimed -70kg silver as the 43-strong Netherlands team opened their medal account on day two. Every Dutch judoka was greeted with a raucous atmosphere as the home fans were out in force with high expectations on the second day. World number two DE WIT narrowly lost his first Grand Prix final at home by a waza-ari score while VAN DIJKE was unable to contest her final due to injury.
The hosts will be fancied to register in the gold medal column on Sunday with defending champion Roy MEYER (+100kg) and fellow poster star Marhinde VERKERK (-78kg) along with Paris Grand Slam winner Michael KORREL (-100kg).
Spain’s world champion Nikoloz SHERAZADISHVILI (ESP) will be among the international stars to look out for on the last day as the -90kg king competes for the first time since his legendary Baku exploits.
World champion stunned by unseeded Bulgarian who reinvents himself to strike gold
By it’s nature judo is unpredictable. The only thing guaranteed at a judo event is that no result is guaranteed. Every contest win has to be earned, every Olympic qualification point has to be fought for like your life depends on it. With that notion in mind, world champion Saeid MOLLAEI (IRI) was beaten in his first contest by Ivaylo IVANOV (BUL) who has long been the forgotten man of the -81kg division.
To his immense credit, MOLLAEI (above - white judogi), who finished fifth at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam at the end of October, congratulated his victor and wished him well in the subsequent rounds showing all the hallmarks of a champion but also of a judoka in a humbling act that defines judo as being more than a sport.
Watch day three of #JudoTheHague2018 live and free at live.ijf.org