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Mark Pickering – IJF
IJF Emanuele Di Feliciantonio / IJF
Six-time Grand Slam medallist Sharafuddin Lutfillaev (UZB) defeated world number 38 Artem Lesiuk (UKR) to win Grand Prix gold on day one in Marrakech. First-time IJF finalist Lesiuk forced the contest into golden score and his Uzbek rival surged into action with a huge koshi-guruma for a waza-ari score to hand him his twelfth Grand Prix medal and fourth of the golden variety.
In the first semi-final Lesiuk defeated Tel Aviv Grand Prix gold medallist Jorre Verstraeten (BEL) by ippon having led by a waza-ari score from the opening exchanges. In the second semi-final Lutfillaev caught two-time European Championships bronze medallist Ashley McKenzie (GBR) with ashi-waza for his second and match-winning score.
The first bronze medal was won by number one seed Amiran Papinashvili (GEO) who beat a desperately disappointed Mckenzie by two scores inside three minutes to register Georgia in the medal table on day one.
The second bronze medal went to European Championships silver medallist Yanislav Gerchev (BUL) who bested Belgian youngster Verstraeten. Gerchev planted his opponent with a big ura-nage for a waza-ari score and diligently defended to seal his first Grand Prix medal.
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