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Uta Abe ruthless and undefeated in Antalya

Uta Abe ruthless and undefeated in Antalya

29 Mar 2024 19:25
IJF Media team by Jo Crowley and JudoInside
Tamara Kulumbegashvili - IJF

Olympic Champion Uta Abe showed her true superiority by throwing Olympic medallist Chelsie Giles in just a few seconds with uchi-mata in the final for women U52kg in Antalya. The final was a much shorter affair than either of the other medal contests. Abe’s wins were brutal, not just throwing her opponents but levelling them without mitigation, without alternative, without any concession at all.

Chelsie Giles looked to be in big trouble on the bottom half of the draw in the prelims. The Olympic, world and European medallist held a Cuban opponent down in round two after a first round bye but in the round of 16, WJT stalwart Jessica Pereira (BRA) had done her homework well and converted it into very useful tactics. Giles scored a first waza-ari but with a minute and a half to go, the Brazilian countered another throwing attempt from Giles and equalised. She also went straight into osae-komi. Giles managed to escape, just, wrapping her own legs around Pereira’s head and arm. It was a close call. She was almost thrown a couple more times before performing her own counter to take the win, clearly relieved to be heading into the quarter-finals.

In the quarter-final against Zhu (CHN) Giles was back to her normal self, holding for the win after just a minute of contest time and in her semi-final a very low sumi-gaeshi brought her the win against former Cuban, Leiva Sanchez (ESP). The final was arranged, Abe versus Giles, the outcome was rude and fast.

The first bronze medal was for either Kadamboeva or Leiva Sanchez. The Uzbek brought the first attacks but the advantage was quickly swung towards Spain with Leiva Sanchez coming close to winning with a koshi-jjme and in the next exchange she attempted an o-uchi-gari that wasn’t far away from being scored. At the two minute mark the Spanish judoka applied the same attack again and logged a waza-ari forcing Kadamboeva to find a new gear. She never let the barrage diminish, attacking throughout the remaining time, overcome with emotion at the bell. Antalya is her first ever grand slam and so this bronze medal is very special indeed.

The second bronze medal would go home with Puljiz (CRO) or Giuffrida (ITA), the Croatian having reached the final block somewhat under the radar. Against the Italian she was courageous and undeterred, trying uchi-mata and tomoe-nage. Her attitude proved to be correct and she won the contest on penalties but in a very active way.

The original top seed was Keldiyorova (UZB), a workhorse of a judoka who has been picking off the highest level opposition one at a time. However, she was absent, changing the order of things in the draw and pushing double Olympic medallist Odette Giuffrida (ITA) to the top of the sheet. This also put Olympic and 4-time world champion Uta Abe (JPN) on the same side, offering the potential for the highest level of semi-final possible.

Giuffrida did not have the easiest day but also never looked like losing. It was a shido win against Chopade (IND), an armlock against Annika Wurfel (GER) and a very low o-uchi-gari against Kadamboeva (UZB) which only scored a waza-ari, remaining the only positive score on the board at the end of the allotted 4 minutes.

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