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Just three months after Israel hosted the prestigious Masters’ tournament in Jerusalem, the World Judo Tour has returned to Tel Aviv, and was welcomed in typical fashion with a stadium full of judo-crazy fans eagerly anticipating each fight.
At -57kgs, Jessica Klimkait finally secured victory over her teammate and rival Christa Deguchi in spectacular fashion, with a trademark dropping technique.
She was awarded the gold medal by IJF President, Marius Vizer
“I think it’s known that Christa and I, my teammate, had quite the rivalry leading up to Tokyo 2020,” said Klimkait afterwards. “And I had never beaten her before. So it wasn’t just about this tournament, it was about the last few years even.”
Second successive gold for France’s Pont
At -48kg, France’s Blandine Pont followed up her Paris Grand Slam win just two weeks ago, by reaching the top of the podium once again, claiming her second-ever Grand Slam gold against Israel’s Tamar Malca.
Moshe Ponte, Israel Judo Association President was on hand to award the medals
At -60kg Olympic Bronze medalist Luka Mkheidze of France overcame Francisco Garrigos of Spain with a swift kata-guruma, and was delighted to take his first-ever Grand Slam Gold.
He was awarded his medals by Israeli Sports Betting Board Chairman Shabtai Tsur.
“The public is really present here,” said Mkheidze. “And when I won my fight, I turned towards the public and I looked at them and I saw that they were happy and it was just such a fantastic feeling.”
At -52kg it was European Champion and 2022 World SIlver medallist Chelsie Giles of Great Britain who took gold against Ana Perez Box of Spain.
A brilliant Tomoe Nage
A nail-biting final at -66kg saw Olympic silver medallist Georgia’s Vazha Margvelashvili triumph over Azerbaijan’s Orkhan Safarov with a brilliant Tomoe Nage.
The medals were awarded by CEDCO Hungary Chairman Michael Michaely.
The crowd cheered fantastic action from the home athletes throughout the day, which is exactly what they come for. Even without a gold medal, the whole Shlomo arena lights up every time a local athlete fights. The cherry on top of the cake coming from home favourite Timna Nelson Levy who seized a bronze medal for the ecstatic home fans!
Don’t miss Day 2!