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Junior World Championships gold medallist Manuel Lombardo from Italy stepped up to deliver the finest performance of his young career on the senior stage as he brushed aside Budapest Grand Prix bronze medallist Bogdan Iadov (UKR) in the -66kg final. In an unlikely final, which pitted two first-time finalists against each other, the Italian threw with a modified kata-guruma for a waza-ari score with 19 seconds left on the clock.
Israel’s two top-rated judoka, Baruch Shmailov (ISR) and Tal Flicker (ISR), were expected to be the decisive characters in the U66kg category, but it was two new names who made their mark at the first IJF stop in the new season.
In the first semi-final Budapest Grand Prix bronze medallist Bogdan Iadov (UKR) defeated Tashkent Grand Prix silver medallist Sardor Nurillaev (UZB) by ippon with a ura-nage. In the second semi-final Lombardo defeated Gaitero Martin (ESP) in golden score after the Spaniard picked up his third penalty for passivity in added time.
The first bronze medal was won by Gaitero Martin who dispatched IJF World Judo Tour debutant Ibrahim Aliyev (AZE) with an ippon-seoi-nage after 26 seconds of golden score. Former Cancun Grand Prix silver medallist Gaitero Martin beat the spirited 19-year-old Azeri debutant in added time to continue his steady climb up the rankings at U66kg.
The second bronze medal went to world number 61 Islam Khametov (RUS) who defeated world number 27 Nurillaev by ippon with an o-soto-gari with 26 seconds left on the clock. Former Ekaterinburg Grand Slam bronze medallist Khametov won his second Grand Prix medal to add to his country’s medal account on the opening day in Tel Aviv.
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