Judo is much more than a sport, it’s a family where no one is left behind. The Budapest Grand Prix 2019 was to be an historical moment, with the first ever refugee team participating and they certainly deserve their place among the elite.
Our Woman of the Day was 2017 World Champion Funa Tonaki of Japan. In the -48kg final she was up against Antalya Grand Prix winner Distria Krasniqi of Kosovo in what was an entertaining contest.
With a waza-ari each, it was Japan’s Tonaki who came out on top in Golden Score, securing a hold down to take home the gold medal.
In attendance was the Hungarian State Secretary for Sport, Ms Tunde Szabo, who presented Tonaki with her gold medal.
“First of all, thank you very much. I have fought against her a lot in practice, but this was the first time we’ve met in competition, so we know each other and it was really hard for us to really fight for the first time. So at any moment I could have been thrown for ippon by her, it was really a close match,” said Funa Tonaki in an interview.
Kazakhstan’s Yeldos Smetov was our Man of the Day. Having been on form throughout the preliminaries, the 2015 world champion would meet the 2014 world champion Boldbaatar Ganbat of Mongolia in an explosive final of the -60kg category.
Smetov secured the gold with a perfectly timed throw in the last 20 seconds of the contest, earning him the 6th Grand Prix gold of his career.
The medal was presented by IOC member and former President of Hungary Mr Pal Schmitt.
“For this year, the most important and the most serious competition is the World Championship in Tokyo. All of the IJF Grand Slams and Grand Prix are preperation for this and I think they will bring me once again to the world championships Gold Medal,” said Yeldos Smetov in an interview.
Two near identical counters in the -57kg category saw reining Olympic Champion Rafaela Silva of Brazil defeat European Games silver medallist Nora Gjakova of Kosovo to take gold.
The -66kg champion was Montreal Grand Prix gold medallist Kherlen Ganbold of Mongolia, who defeated Kazakhstan’s Yeldos Zhumakanov in the final, making it two golds in two weeks for the Mongolian. Vice president of CNN advertising sales, the Americas, Ms Corinna Keller presented him with his medal.
Japan took a second gold in the -52kg when Chishima Maeda threw Fabienne Kocher of Switzerland for a wazari score to capture her first gold medal on the IJF World Judo Tour.
This helped Japan top the medals table standings at the end of the first day of the competition, with two golds, ahead of Kazakhstan and Mongolia in second and third place respectively, with one gold and one silver each.
The surprise of the day came when Kosovo’s Olympic Champion Majlinda Kelmendi, was turned over and pinned by Spain’s Ana Perez Box in the -52kg category bronze contest.
Move of the Day
Our Move of the Day came from Iranian born Mohammad Rashnonezhad of the IJF refugee team against Hungary’s Daniel Monori in the -60kg first round.
All in all, it was a brilliant day for the Hungarian judo fans, who got to meet some of their heroes and have a day they will never forget.